Nearly 20 years later, Skagit development battle continues



Posted on December 2, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 2 at 7:20 PM

SEDRO WOOLEY, Wash. -- It's a development that has been in the works for so long it would be preparing to graduate from high school next year.

Bayview Ridge was first proposed in 1997. The development west of Burlington would house an additional 3,000 people, including an urban village of sorts in this rural community.It's on a prime piece of real estate for Skagit County, out of the flood plain, away from farm land and zoned for both residential and industrial uses.

"It would be an economic engine for Skagit County," said county planning director Dale Pernula.

The idea is to build a sustainable community while expanding the nearby port. Supporters say it would create an economic hub that would bring in much needed tax revenue and awaken this sleepy bedroom community.

"Right now we're becoming more of a commuter community," said Pernula. "We want to capture more of those jobs here in Skagit County."

But the project is facing opposition from neighbors who say it would cost taxpayers millions in infrastructure, specifically, a new school. Meantime, a city just across I-5 is ready and willing to welcome that kind of development.

"I can see where Sedro-Wooley will be the biggest city in Skagit County," said the city's mayor, Mike Anderson.

Sedro-Wooley is an old west kind of town that is making moves to modernize. Mayor Anderson showed off the city's new fire station Monday, financed with a FEMA grant.

"We put it toward the north end of town because that's where the growth will be," he said.

According to Anderson, there is no reason to build near Burlington when his town is ready to go with the new fire station, sewers, roads and more than 200 developable acres.

"We have all the infrastructure. It just doesn't make sense to go develop something else and have it cost more money for the taxpayers."

The nearly two decades old debate continues, but the push is on to have a decision by the end of this year.

An important zoning vote is scheduled for Skagit County commissioners at 2 p.m. Tuesday.  A "no" vote could further delay the project and be detrimental for developers partial to the current proposed location.