City Council to hold public hearing Monday on non-conforming use standards

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The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its Monday, Dec. 21 meeting will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes to the city’s non-conforming use standards.

The reason why the city developed non-conforming use standards has to do with the Town Center plan approved by the council in 2007. The plan includes the development of new stores, restaurants, offices and housing in the 68-acre downtown zone. The  development standards apply to new buildings only, so existing buildings are deemed non-conforming, meaning there are city-imposed limits on how they can be developed.

The council is considering the following changes:

  • Increasing the abandonment/termination period from the current six-month time period to a 12-month period. This allows a more reasonable time frame for marketing nonconforming properties before they can no longer be reoccupied.
  • Include provisions for nonconforming improvements such as pavement, landscaping and other improvements that are neither structures nor uses by definition. This addresses a significant void in the code because it is not clear how these types of nonconforming improvements should be addressed under the nonconformance standards.
  • Include provisions that do not allow a nonconforming use to be “intensified”. This is follow-up to a recent court case that found that intensification of existing nonconforming uses could occur unless local codes specifically prohibit intensification.
  • Include provisions for “Improvements of Nonconforming Buildings”, which describes the types of improvements that can be made to keep nonconforming buildings reasonably viable in today’s market without adding so much value in improvements that the properties will never be redeveloped as otherwise envisioned for the Town Center. The maximum value of “improvement” is set at a cumulative value of 25 percent of the building’s value at the time of the latest proposed improvement.
  • Include provisions for “demolition by neglect”, which ensure that buildings that are allowed to deteriorate as a result of neglect may not be refurbished under maintenance provisions but are rather subject to abandonment or termination provisions separately defined in the new code.
  • Define “exempt improvements”, which will not be included in the valuation of improvements allowed on nonconforming buildings. These include items that, although are essentially mounted or installed improvements, are nonetheless the personal property of the tenant and designed for easy removal upon a tenant’s vacation of the premises.

The council will also consider:

  • Adoption of a Traffic Safety Ordinance that would make panhandling illegal on certain roadways and intersections in Mountlake Terrace.
  • Adoption of 2016 Salary Ranges Ordinance
  • Third Quarter Financial Report and Performance Measures

In addition, the council will hold an executive session regarding potential litigation.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers, 6100 219th St. S.W., 2nd Floor. You can see the complete agenda here.

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