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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

ACTION ALERT - Motocross track threatens area around Granite Falls, gateway to scenic Mountain Loop Byway

ACTION ALERT



Motocross track threatens area around Granite Falls, gateway to scenic Mountain Loop Byway

Snohomish County approved development of a Granite Falls Motocross Park recently, and our friends at the Mountain Loop Conservancy are organizing opposition for a series of upcoming public hearings. As anyone who as been through the Mountain Loop Byway knows, the Mountain Loop area has been a nearby oasis of quiet, calm natural beauty on the "back doorstep" of the increasingly urbanized Puget Sound corridor. The growth along the highway approaches to the town of Granite Falls, and the development of the Gravel Mine there have altered the landscape enough. A motocross park would bring many more people and vehicles into the area, tie up traffic and cause a drone of noise and disruption during race events. Not to mention the lack of capacity for the crowds it would attract.

Here's the alert we received from Mountain Loop Conservancy:




Input Needed at the Granite Falls Motocross Hearing
By Mountain Loop Conservancy
January 12, 2014

Granite Falls, WA – The decision by Snohomish County on the development of the Granite Falls Motocross Park has been appealed by The Mountain Loop Conservancy (MLC), Pilchuck Audubon, and North Cascades Conservation Council and they are asking for public input at the hearing in February 2014. This project began in 2007 and, if approved, would be constructed on almost 80 acres of a 437 acre site of forested land four miles east of Granite Falls. The Mountain Loop area is designated as a National Forest Scenic Byway and has more than 400,000 visitors annually.


In 2006, Snohomish County created the Motocross Racetracks Ordinance. It singles out just a couple of locations where such a track can be located in the whole county. At the meeting with the County Council, supporters of motocross FAR outnumbered people opposed to it, largely because opponents were blindsided, having been given little notice of the proposed ordinance. Even though the developers, Gary Strode and Paul Thomas of MXGP, had illegally constructed a motocross track without any permits near Monroe, the council created an ordinance so they could open a new track.


Conservation groups immediately took action to prevent this development.Petitions against the project were distributed and signed, a web site was created by the Mountain Loop Conservancy, and the services of attorney Dave Bricklin were enlisted. Letters from people all over the world opposing the project were sent to Planning and Development Services (PDS) of Snohomish County. A Mitigated Determination of Nonsignificance (MDNS) was issued in 2010 by PDS. This determination allows a project to move forward if they can meet certain requirements. There were three appeals to this decision, the MDNS was quickly withdrawn, and the developer was forced to submit additional documents.  Conservation groups have been trying to force the developers to do a far more detailed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). We have successfully fought this project for 6 ½ years. In 2013, another MDNS was issued by PDS. The MLC, along with Pilchuck Audubon and North Cascades Conservation Council, filed another appeal based on the unavoidable impacts of the project, and the contradictory nature of information about the project supplied by the developer.


Our concerns about this project include:
  • Noise- The peace and quiet that attracts so many to the area will be lost due to the loud noise of motocross bikes and ATVs. A berm, to supposedly cut down on the noise, is not scheduled to be completed for 15 years!
  • Water usage and drainage- The proposed site sits atop a sensitive aquifer area and leaks of oil and gas could permanently pollute it. If too much water is drawn out for usage at the site, it will affect local residents and wildlife.
  • Traffic- The 2-lane Mountain Loop Highway was not designed to handle the thousands who may attend racing events. This will affect hikers traveling on the Mountain Loop Highway trying to get to trailheads!
  • Wildlife and the environment- The 437 acre site was not surveyed adequately. Black bear, marbled murrelets, bald eagles, salmon, and trout are just a few of the species that will be affected by habitat destruction and ongoing disturbance.
  • Emergency Service- Fire, medical, and law enforcement services are extremely limited in this rural areaA fire could quickly grow into a major disaster.
  • Local Economy- Outdoor recreation attracts 400,000 annually to this area. Local businesses take advantage of the natural beauty of the region and a motocross park is incompatible with current land usage.
We are looking for people to testify against this project. To find out more about the major reasons we oppose this project, please visit this site:http://mtloopconservancy.org/No%20Motocross/NoMoto2.htm


When the Motocross Racetracks Ordinance was created, the motocross people “won”. It’s our turn this time.

In the public testimony, people may choose to cover some of the areas of concern we have identified or they may choose to use their own words. They can speak from their heart about experiences they have had in the area. A beautiful view, a surprising wildlife encounter, or the joys of introducing the area to a visitor, are just a few of the ideas they could discuss. Testimony may be limited to a maximum of three minutes per person. The hearing will take place in Public Hearing Room #2 on the 1st floor of the Robert J. Drewel Building (Admin-East), 3000 Rockefeller Avenue, Everett, Washington. Here is the schedule (note that the Hearings may continue past these dates if the Hearing Examiner determines more time is necessary):


February 4, 2014           1:00 pm   Public testimony

February 5, 2014           6:00 pm   Public testimony

If concerned citizens plan to attend or give testimony opposing the motocross park development on February 4 or 5, please let the MLC know by sending an email topaulshep@mindspring.comThe appellants need bodies out there to show there is support against such a project.


If you're unable to make it to a hearing in person, we strongly urge you to submit written comments to hearing.examiner@snoco.org or mail them to:
Snohomish County Hearing Examiner
3000 Rockefeller Avenue, M/S 405
Everett, WA  98201
      NOTE that all written comments must reference the Project Name
      Granite Falls Motocross Park, AND file# 07-101924-LU.
Comments must be submitted before the end of the hearing on February 5th!

It will cost the Mountain Loop Conservancy at least $25,000 to be represented in court by an attorney. If you would like to make a donation towards those costs, send an email to paulshep@mindspring.com. The MLC currently has applied for nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service and hopes to have that status by the end of the year.


NCCC urges you to contribute to MLC, attend these hearings and write a comment!


THANK YOU!

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