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Developer gets green light near Lakota Creek

Federal Way decided Oct. 15 to continue reviewing two single-family residences planned for construction in the setback of a Lakota Creek tributary.

Federal Way resident Scott McLean is the owner and proposed developer of two parcels located near 26th Place Southwest and Southwest Dash Point Road, northeast of Decatur High School.

He applied to build the Homes by McLean project in August. The proposal initially alarmed some residents, who were concerned the homes would affect Lakota Creek and hinder restoration work completed there in 2004.

The unnamed tributary does not carry fish. Located near the building site, the tributary is considered a minor stream and, by city code, its setback area includes land within 50 feet of the streambed.

Any proposed construction within a setback zone is subject to an environmental review. The city’s Oct. 15 issuance of a Determination of Non-significance indicates McLean has fully exposed the environmental effects of his project and all further consideration of the construction is subject to city codes, said community development director Greg Fewins.

A shared driveway, retaining wall with fence and residential yard will sit within the stream buffer, according to the DNS. Under review are the effect this work will have on the nearby slope and its likelihood of erosion. Whether the work will adversely affect Lakota Creek, the setback, wildlife habitat or storm water retention will also be reviewed.

“You have to show you are not going to adversely affect the quality of water of the stream,” Associate Planner Matt Herrera said when McLean filed an application for the project.

Once staff completes its review, a recommendation to either approve the project as-is, deny it or approve it with recommended mitigations, will be passed to a hearing examiner to make the final decision on whether Homes by McLean will proceed.

“The burden is on him and if he can’t provide proof he can do this, the staff will recommend he be denied,” Herrera said.

Now is the time for the public to weigh in on the matter. Before a recommendation is made, the public has 14 days to submit comments to Fewins about the construction. Citizens can use this process to call attention to concerns they feel city staff failed to acknowledge, Fewins said.

“Somebody might say ‘Oh hey, you forgot something,’” he said.

If unaddressed concerns arise, staff will stop their evaluation process and hold off on a recommendation until the issue is fully evaluated, Fewins said. The city could evaluate a citizen’s concern, find it does not pose a threat to McLean’s project and continue to form a recommendation. In that case, a 14-day appeal period will open after Oct. 29. Staff’s evaluations of the Homes by McLean project could be challenged at this time, Fewins said.

The city has no knowledge of citizen input about the project, as of yet, Fewins said.

However, former Federal Way resident Dave Hamlin began wondering in August how McLean’s project would impact previous restoration work and fish habitat on Lakota Creek, he said.

The city completed the Lakota Creek Restoration Project in 2004. The undertaking took place on the main stem and west branch of the creek. The stream bank was stabilized and fish habitat and passages restored. The project included temporarily diverting the stream flow, regrading portions of the creek bed where erosion occurred, placing spawning gravels and wood debris, eliminating fish passage barriers, removing invasive plants and shrubs and restoring disturbed areas. The focus site spanned from Southwest 320th Street near Decatur High School to Lakehaven Utility District’s Lakota Wastewater Treatment Plant near Dumas Bay Centre.

McLean said he is building affordable homes and is confident his project will not harm the stream, its habitat or previous restoration work. He said the tributary is little more than a drainage ditch constructed to empty the high school’s parking lot after a hard rain.

“I have very complete studies done by licensed engineering companies,” he said.

McLean said he is willing to show those studies to anyone interested in them.

Contact writer: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com

F.Y.I.

Concerned citizens should send their comments about this project to Greg Fewins at the following address: City of Federal Way, Care of Greg Fewins, 33325 8th Ave. S., Federal Way, WA 98003.

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