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Snohomish County is working every day to protect the environmentally sensitive areas that many of us take for granted. One such area known as the NGPA (Natural Growth Protection Area) surrounds most housing developments outside major metropolitan areas.
A complaint recently filed with Snohomish County illustrates how some property owners try to skirt the law by invading the NGPA on their property with landscaping and grade changes. In some cases, a new property owner sees potential in the unused NGPA area thinking that it does not hurt anything by developing the area into something useable.
The County is quick to point out that this is not acceptable and the law is in place for a reason.
Snohomish County Assistance Bulletin 50:
Question: What can I do in a Native Growth Protection Area (NGPA)?
Answer: SCC 30.62 specifically states that no clearing, grading, or construction of any kind can occur in these areas. Passive recreational activities that do not disturb vegetation or soils are not a problem, although there are exceptions to these restrictions.
In the Outlook Ridge example, the homeowner began clearing NGPA bit by bit so not to be noticed, but adjacent property owners were not fooled and became alarmed as more and more of the hillside became exposed. When confronted, the homeowner verbalized his plans to bring in dirt and do some terracing for better use of the property.
Residents told us that small seedling trees and several bushes were removed along with the never relenting blackberry bush over growth. They also saw evidence of several rabbit nests that had been destroyed during the ground cover removal.
The greater issue with this particular case of vegetation removal is the exposed ground that will quickly erode into the stream below if not corrected. This puts all the surrounding homes in danger not just the property owner’s home.
The property owner here went even further by expanding into the HOA buffer zone, a sensitive stream and wetland area that borders the housing development.
The HOA manager for Outlook Ridge was aware of the ongoing move into the NGPA and did make several visits to the property but the clearing work continued.
According to several homeowners that were the first to purchase homes at Outlook Ridge 13 years ago, this was not always the case. “It was impossible to make any alterations to our property inside the NGPA when we first moved here,” said Tiffani, a current homeowner.
The complaint (15-107146-000-00-CT) filed with Snohomish County sites the property owner at the 12000 block of 60th Ave SE with two violations, grading without a permit and Native Growth Protection Area violation by inspector Stephanie Lyon. The first inspection is slated for June 4th when progress to restore the native growth must be in progress.
We attempted to contact Stephanie Lyon, the Code Inspector, to gather further information and have yet to hear back.
Snohomish counties website has some great resources for homeowners with questions about what then can and cannot do with their property. http://snohomishcountywa.gov/1385/Snohomish-County-Code
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