Miles of footpath winds through thickets of blackberries and groves of cedars and pine, up steep inclines and over ridges. The clamor of traffic is quickly weeded out by old growth vegetation and steep hills filled with the sounds of bird calls and creaking wood inside Bothell’s Shelton View Woods.
However, change may be in the future as one forest property owner is seeking to have their plot rezoned, prompting concerns of future development among neighbors. The Bothell Parks and Recreation department is also looking at turning a portion of the land into a park.
The forest sits on more than 100 acres, and is composed of multiple plots owned by various private interests, as well as plots owned by the Department of Natural Resources, the Federal Emergence Management Agency and the United States Army. Some plots already have commercial or residential development on them.
Shelton View Woods, is one of the last open spaces in the Bothell and Kenmore aside from Saint Edward State Park, and has attracted a small but dedicated group of citizens calling for its preservation.
Long-time forest advocate Janet DeGrave bristles at the thought of development on the land she’s fought tooth and nail to protect during the past 23 years.
“For some reason, I have a very strong connection to the trees, and water and animals. So for me, it’s something that I think about every day,” she said.
DeGrave moved into a house next to the woods 33 years ago after she said her real estate agent told her the ‘green belt’ behind her house was permanent. She later found out it wasn’t.
During the past two decades, she has appeared before the Bothell City Council multiple times, written countless editorial letters, attended meetings, started petitions and protested to save the woodland.
DeGrave isn’t alone in her desire to keep the forest an open space.
An online petition by a group called Save Shelton View Woods has gathered more than 700 signatures calling for the city to keep the woods as they are, or develop it into a park.
Bothell’s Parks Advisory Board was also interested, and voted last Thursday to draw up a proposal to look into purchasing a 26-acre plot from the Department of Natural Resources.
“At this point, I’m just waiting to see if there’s any interest,” said city Parks and Recreation Director John Keates. “It’s a pretty neat piece of property.”
If approved by the City Council, the Parks Advisory Board would begin drawing up plans to secure funding for the purchase. Since the Department of Natural Resources land is held in trust, it must be bought at an appraised fair market value, Keates said.
According to the DNR, an appraisal is a long and costly process, and is not started until later in negotiations.
Trust land, like the Shelton View Woods DNR plot, are owned by the state and used to generate revenue for capital improvements through logging or other means.
MC Coast LLC owns a 16.5 acre plot of land directly north of the DNR plot, and according to blueprints from study sessions held last month, may be looking to rezone them for medium- to high-density development, including apartments.
It could also house neighborhood convenience stores, in like with the cities comprehensive growth plan.
City planners began updating their comprehensive growth plan in 2013, a process which is on an eight-year cycle. Senior planner Bruce Blackburn said MC Coast LLC requested a rezoning of their property this cycle.
The city is discussing the proposed rezoning with the community and gathering information. No development plans for the MC Coast LLC plot have been submitted.
“We identified that was just too complex a discussion to be held at that time,” Blackburn said.
Three plans were presented, with plots owned by the DNR and Fruhling Sand and Topsoil remaining unchanged. Property owned by Canyon Ridge Condos to the north of the MC Coast LLC property could be rezoned to more closely match their current use.
As the Northshore area continues to grow, developers are looking at unused plots of land to build on. Bothell’s Parks and Recreation Open Space Plan adopted in 2012 states there should be 3 acres of neighborhood park, 2.5 acres for community parks and 2.5 acres for regional parks per 1,000 residents.
DeGrave believes the entirety of the forest, aside from the Canyon Creek condos property, would satisfy these guidelines, but it’s more than regulations to her.
“I’ve gone from being able to see the joy and the beauty that (place) would bring me, to actually feeling it,” she said.”I hope that would be something that people could experience at some point.”
A Planning Commission and community hearing was held Oct. 16, where more than 40 people showed up to voice their opinion where city officials said resident input was appreciated.
Another meeting is scheduled for Nov. 18.