While the Mountlake Terrace City Council unanimously approved a proposal to build 56 new homes on the current Creekside Church property, councilmembers also promised to address the traffic concerns of neighbors who live near the project, and who showed up to testify at a public hearing Monday night.
The council also unanimously approved a nearly $22-per-month average increase in water rates and also okayed the city’s 2019-20 budget
Most of those who crowded the council chambers for Monday night’s meeting were there to hear more about — and comment on — the Creekside Meadows development.
Proposed by Century Communities — which also developed Atworth Commons on 56th Avenue West and 218th Street Southwest in Mountlake Terrace — it would replace the existing Creekside Church building and paved parking area at 7011 226th Pl. S.W.
The site is zoned RS 8400, meaning each lot must be 8,400 square feet and under that designation could hold 51 lots. The proposal is for the 56 homes to be built under what is known as a planned unit development, which will “overlay” the current RS 8400 zone.
As a planned unit development, or PUD, the city imposes requirements for open space that is available to the public, including a trail system that will be open dawn to dusk. The city’s minimum requirement for open space is 15 percent, but the Creekside Meadows development sets aside about 35 percent.
At a recent open house on the proposed development, neighbors expressed concerns about traffic and construction impacts. Read more in our story on that meeting, and Monday night’s meeting was no different.
Sharlene McDaniels, who lives on 228th Street Southwest near the proposed development, expressed similar concerns Monday night, noting that traffic has been an ongoing concern for neighbors, even before the development was proposed.
“It’s bad,” she said of the roadway, which has a 14 percent grade and a sharp s-curve at the top. Neighbors say that drivers often use the several-block stretch along 228th Street Southwest/226th Place Southwest an an alternative route — instead of continuing up Lakeview Drive — to connect from Edmonds to Mountlake Terrace.
Those testifying during a public hearing said they were worried about the increased volume of cars the development would bring to their street. Neighbors also noted the ongoing issue of speeding cars that cause traffic collisions and make it difficult for residents to get out of their driveways.
City officials noted that a traffic impact analysis conducted for the development proposal shows that there are currently 3,100 average daily trips along 226th Place Southwest/228th Street Southwest between 73rd Place Southwest and 66th Avenue West. It’s estimated that the proposed development would add 533 trips, which doesn’t reach the threshold for making street improvements.
While councilmembers said Monday night they didn’t believe the new development would impact the existing traffic issues, they agreed the city should do a better job of responding to the longstanding problems. Among the ideas discussed Monday night: adding a police presence to ticket speeding drivers and ensuring that the speed radar sign now located at the bottom of the hill be moved to the top, where curves make driving more treacherous.
“It’s an area that we and the staff need to start focusing on,” said Councilmember Doug McCardle.
Another concern raised by some in the audience was slope stability on the eastern hillside as the project is constructed.
Gary Mozingo, a geologist with Associated Earth Sciences, who is working on the project, explained that construction will include “tiebacks that extend deep into the hillside and get grouted in. To increase stability prior to excavation, “every one of them is tensioned and locked off, pulling walls back into the slope,” he said. The project, he added, “will leave the slope better than it is now.”
Addressing neighbors’ worries about the hillside, Councilmember Bryan Wahl asked that a company memorandum that explains the methods to ensure stability be transmitted to nearby residents.
The water rate increase approved by the council was acknowledged as both painful, due to the significant increase, and necessary to ensure that residents have a clean, safe and reliable water system.
“This is expensive, it hurts to pass it, but it has to be done,” McCardle said. Both McCardle and Wahl noted that the city needs to make up for the past, when earlier city councils chose not to raise rates due to the recession.
Now, the city is facing a variety of challenges, including aging water pipes that needs replacing and leaks in the water system that don’t meet standards set by the Washington State Department of Health.
The council also approved its 2019-20 biennial budget, and okayed a 7.1 percent increase in the impact fees paid by developers for transportation improvements to serve their developments.
— Story and photos by Teresa Wippel