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Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Hearing set on permits for Granite Falls dirtbike track

GRANITE FALLS — The fate of an off-road motorcycle park proposed near Mountain Loop Highway could hinge on an upcoming decision by the Snohomish County hearing examiner.
Hearings on the project are set to begin Monday and could last up to two weeks.
The examiner must consider an appeal filed by opponents, who say Snohomish County planners failed to perform an adequate environmental review of the project.
The company trying to build the racetrack complex also needs the hearing examiner’s approval to rezone the property for recreation. It’s now designated for forestry. The examiner must approve a conditional use permit as well.
MXGP of Kirkland has been trying to build an off-road motorcycle facility since 2005, the year the county shut down a track operating without permits near Monroe. A later attempt to build a track in Maltby died in the face of zoning hurdles or neighborhood opposition.
In planning documents, the company applying to build the Granite Falls track is listed as Paul Thomas Motocross Parks.
A coalition of neighbors and environmentalists are fighting the plans. The Mountain Loop Conservancy, the North Cascades Conservation Council and the Pilchuck Audubon Society filed the appeal with the hearing examiner.
The Granite Falls Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, has endorsed the motocross park with an online statement:
“The Chamber believes that this project presents a huge economic opportunity for the city and community of Granite Falls. We are providing this page on our website in an effort to inform the public about this project. In the spirit of fairness to the community, the Chamber is willing to present facts from project opponents insofar as those facts are presented in a verifiable and informative manner.”
Next week’s hearing is to review a study that county planners released in September, after more than three years of work. The mitigated determination of non-significance, as it’s known, says the track can be built, if the developer adheres to a long list of safeguards.
Restrictions include regular noise testing by sound engineers, specific hours of daily operation and dust control, among others.
The current proposal includes four outdoor tracks for different skill levels. Plans call for grandstands, a parking lot and overnight RV parking, as well as the eventual construction of a 25-foot-tall berm around the property to act as a noise buffer.
The proposed track site is between two rock quarries, about six miles east of Granite Falls. When built out, the complex would cover parts of 75 acres in the middle of a 437-acre property. A minimum of 500 feet of trees would be left on all sides.
Hearing examiner pro-tem Phil Olbrechts is scheduled to preside.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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