Amid concerns from property owners, council OKs Main Street Phase II property acquisition

City Engineer Rich Meredith explained that the upgrades to 56th Avenue West require land acquisition to meet ADA accessibility guidelines.

The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its June 6 meeting approved the acquisition of property needed for the city’s Main Street Phase II project. The vote came after some property and local business owners voiced their concerns about the impacts of future phases of the Main Street Revitalization Project

City Engineer Rich Meredith presented plans for the roads and sidewalks as well as a right-of- way timeline for the project, which started in 2022, was paused in 2023 and resumed in 2024.

A timeline of the right-of-way acquisition shows a projected completion of December 2024.

The timeline also showed that property owners were notified in spring of 2024 and that condemnation cases would be filed in August 2024, if needed.

A Mountlake Terrace Town Center map shows the streets to be updated or built by phase.
A map of 56th Avenue West and 232nd Street Southwest shows the land to be used for the Main Street revitalization.

The project requires 2.5 feet from either side of 56th Avenue West, giving a 5-foot zone plus a 5-foot sidewalk to gain a total of 10 feet of walking space for pedestrians. 

Meredith said the intersection of 56th Avenue West and 232nd Street Southwest will have street corners, which will allow more people to not only use the crosswalk but also congregate.

Other features are:

– Improved storm drainage updated to meet National Environmental Policy Act guidelines and incorporate additional water quality treatment.

– Traffic signals and street illumination.

– Capacity for electric vehicle charging.

– 5G capable streetlight poles.

– New water mains to help support future development, sewer repairs and pipe relining to improve system performance and resilience.

Future developers will be required to meet those specifications. 

Fleet Reserve Association President of Branch 18 Dan Brossard said the association — which is located on 56th Avenue West — received a condemnation letter dated May 9 and postmarked May 13, but received it the following week. Also, they had not received a compensation letter before the condemnation.

Brossard said that he took the letter as a threat and that they “better agree with what we’re offering you, or we’ll take it anyway.”

Further, he said that the timing is “really, really rotten” because of the delay in communication among the Fleet Reserve Association’s boards. The boards meet monthly, which could mean months before members could meet on the topic.

“Less than five months, not going to fly; it’s too fast,” Brossard said.

Mary Betts, the widow of optometrist Dr. David Betts and owner of the building that houses Mountlake Terrace Eye Care, cited her concern for patients who may have vision difficulty or impairment being able to navigate construction. Also, she did not want her tenants to leave due to a lack of business, yet she still has a mortgage to pay.

West Plaza property manager Kirk Ishizaki expresses his concern for the over 130 employees of the businesses renting space at the shopping center.

Kirk Ishizaki is the property manager for West Plaza, which is home to Double DD Meats, Diamond Knot Brewing Company, the Snohomish Pie Company, Alberto Jr Mexican Restaurant and Espresso Break. Collectively, these companies employ over 130 people.

Ishizaki stated that he fears the Main Street Revitalization project will negatively impact businesses, noting that residents and businesses were affected during the Phase I revitalization of 236th Street Southwest from I-5 to 56th Avenue West.

He said the business owners he spoke with claimed customers had issues accessing the establishments during that construction and felt the city council didn’t care.

Councilmember Laura Sonmore responded that the council does care and that her heart goes out to those displaced.

Ishizaki requested a one-week delay on the condemnation to discuss the city’s plans.

However, city officials said Mountlake Terrace is racing against the clock to keep certain grants.During his presentation to the council, Meredith explained that grants have restrictions and certain funds – such as the RAISE Grant – must be obligated to projects, or the city risks losing them.

Meredith said an extension could be applied for but might not be granted, and they will need to reapply, which could delay the Main Street Revitalization Project by up to six months or more.

Mountlake Terrace City Attorney Kinnon Williams explains the eminent domain process for the city council and audience members during the June 6 city council meeting.

Mountlake Terrace City Attorney Kinnon Williams said that all the paperwork and processes related to the project must be sent to Washington State by December 2024 and that the condemnation process will allow funding for the project to continue while the city negotiates with the property owners.

Williams added that delays also raise project costs due to inflation. He said that a six-month delay Sound Transit experienced during light rail construction cost the agency 15% of the overall project cost.

According to Williams, the land acquisition was done following statutory guidelines and went above and beyond the minimal standards set by the State of Washington. The city sent letters, including one 15 days before the hearing, and published notifications in a locally published newspaper starting a month before the condemnation.

“We will do everything we can to try and accommodate some sort of resolution [with property owners] short of actually filing a case,” Williams said, adding that the city will move forward with property condemnation to meet the project deadline. “We can’t risk losing, literally, millions of dollars on this project that will come out of the taxpayers’ pocket.”

Williams assured the city council and audience that all negotiations would continue and that appraisals and offers would be made to the property owners.

The city council passed the property acquisition in a 5-1 vote. Councilmember Rory Paine Donovan had an excused absence, while Councilmember Rick Ryan voted “nay.”

In other business, the city council and City Engineer Meredith reviewed traffic-calming methods for the Safe Routes to School Project at 216th Street Southwest and 48th Avenue West.

Meredith explained that the proposed changes to the intersection are industry-standard best practices for traffic management and consider the terrain on which they are being used. 

He said speed bumps are not used because they slow emergency vehicle response times and can create a launch effect when approached at high speeds.

Meredith said that adding stop signs would take the project out of scope and potentially create other traffic flow problems.

The city council also approved an amendment to the Snohomish County 911 interlocal agreement. The proposed changes include the process for selecting governing board members and alternates and the elimination of the single non-voting board seat. Two additional non-substantive changes more closely align with how caucus voting has been managed post-pandemic and eliminates the term “Wireless Technology,” which is no longer a department at SNO-911.

L-R: Hannah, Elliott and T.C. Meier receive the proclamation for LGBTQAI+ Pride Month from DEIC chair William Paige Jr.

The city council also issued proclamations honoring LGBTQAI+ Pride Month and Juneteenth during the June 6 meeting.

The Meier family, including Hannah, T.C., and Elliott, accepted the proclamation for LGBTQAI+ Pride Month. Hannah Meier is a former Mountlake Terrace Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission member.

Members of the Sno-Isle Library accepted the proclamation for Juneteenth from Councilmember Steven Woodard during the June 6 city council meeting.

Councilmember Steve Woodard delivered the proclamation for Juneteenth, which marks the day which enslaved Blacks were freed under the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862.

Due to time constraints, the city council voted to reschedule the review of proposal requests for a long-range financial sustainability consultant.

The next meeting will start at 7 p.m., June 13, at Mountlake Terrace City Hall, 23204 58th Ave. W., Mountlake Terrace.

To attend the meeting online, visit zoom.us/join and enter meeting ID 810 1113 9518; no passcode is needed.

To make a public comment remotely, complete the registration form within 24 hours of the meeting’s start at cityofmlt.com/FormCenter/City-Council-17/Remote-Public-Comment-Request-Form-12

To listen via telephone, call 1-253-215-8782 and enter the same meeting ID.

You also can view livestreamed meetings and past video recordings at www.youtube.com/cityofmltThe agenda can be viewed here.

— By Rick Sinnett



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