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'It's gonna be gridlock': Opponents of Lake Stevens Costco file federal lawsuit

The lawsuit alleges the Army Corps of Engineers were incorrect in their finding that the store would have "no significant [environmental] impact."

LAKE STEVENS, Wash. — Members of Livable Lake Stevens believe it's their last chance to stop a Costco from coming into their community.

Now the group is going to federal court targeting the Army Corps of Engineers saying the Corp's ruling of "no significant (environmental) impact" was wrong.

"They didn't go through the proper steps. They rushed it," says the group's Doug Turner.

Neighbors have been fighting plans for a Costco store for 3 years -- packing city council meetings and filing several lawsuits -- all of which have failed.

Turner has lived in Lake Steven for 32 years and ran a neighborhood grocery store for decades. He loves the city, but doesn't like what he sees on the horizon.

"Me and my neighbors just feel ramrodded," he said.

At issue in the lawsuit are several wetlands that have been filled in by developers at the 40 acre Costco site located at South 24th Street and South Lake Stevens Road.

Neighbors hope the court will force developers to restore the wetlands and stop the construction.

"I'm very sad that it has gotten this far," said Turner. "It should never have happened."

The store is expected to bring 275 jobs to Lake Stevens at an average wage of about $24 an hour. It's also expected to restore more than $140 million in grocery taxes the city says it loses to neighboring communities every year.

City planners hope the store would be a "catalyst" for more development. 

Lake Stevens is the fastest-growing city in Snohomish County. As it stands now, about 19,000 vehicles pass by the Costco site every day. That number is projected to jump to nearly 29,000 if the wholesale giant opens -- as the population grows and Lake Stevens swells.

"If that store gets built it's gonna be gridlock," Turner said.

Turner concedes, with construction already underway, the lawsuit is likely the last hope opponents of the project will have to keep Costco out.

He says he has no idea what the chances are of winning, but if he loses, at least he will have done all that he could.

"I can see why somebody thinks you can't stop growth," Turner said. "Well, if that's the way everybody believes then yeah, you can't." 

KING 5 has reached out to both Costco and the City of Lake Stevens for comment on this story.

Both declined.

If Costco survives the court battle it is expected to open in Lake Stevens late next year.

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