The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its March 19 business meeting unanimously approved a transitional use zone that covers townhomes and parking lot development that is currently permitted in a narrow band of lots abutting the Town Center zoning district.
The purpose of the transitional uses area is to provide a buffer between the more intense development permitted in the Town Center district and the surrounding single-family residences.
Under the plan, the height limit for the townhomes in the new transitional zone will be the same as allowed in the city’s other RS 7200 and RS 8400 districts — 35 feet or three stories.
The intent of the plan was to address what many developers and property owners saw as a lack of clear standards for townhomes in the transitional uses area.
Efforts have been underway since fall 2017, to craft improved regulations for such development, and have included months of work involving city staff, the Planning Board, the development community and property owners, along with a public involvement process.
Duane Landsverk of Landsverk Homes was the only person to the testify during the public hearing that followed the staff presentation on the proposed plan, which had received final tweaks leading up to Monday night’s vote. “It really is a celebration of a lot of hard work,” he said. “If you look at what the transitional area was in the previous format, to how much work has gone to where it stands today.” Landsverk acknowledged “the professionalism by everyone involved” and thanked everyone for their hard work.
The council also heard from federal lobbyist Jake Johnston of The Johnston Group, who provided a summary of the city’s 2018 federal legislative agenda.
Noting the “very tumultuous” environment at the federal level, Johnston said the focus will be on what the city would be most able to accomplish.
At the top of the list is ensuring the federal funding commitment for Lynnwood Link Light Rail expansion. Johnston noted that Sound Transit “has been very aggressive” in defending its investments in ST2, which is currently scheduled to bring light rail from Northgate through Mountlake Terrace and on to Lynnwood by 2024.
“Sound Transit is not playing Chicken Little here,” Johnston said. “This threat of losing funding for ST2 is real.” Despite the fact that there is signed federal commitment to fund roughly a billion dollars of the light rail investment, that was not included in the Trump administration’s budget proposal to Congress this year. “It was zeroed out,” Johnston said.
As a result, Sound Transit has been encouraging cities impacted by light rail expansion to also be more aggressive in working with their congressional delegations as well as the Federal Transit Administration, and Johnston said it will be a focus of his work for Mountlake Terrace in Washington, D.C.
The state’s congressional delegation “needs to be fully armed” with information regarding how losing that funding would impact Mountlake Terrace. “Your city’s worked harder than any city to prepare for the transformation of light rail,” Johnston said, pointing to areas such as the Town Center and Main Street Revitalization Projects and the transit center. “All of those investments were predicated on the notion of light rail coming to this community, and there’s a very real threat that that funding will be rescinded,” he said.
The other top four legislative priorities listed by Johnston include:
– Working with the Army Corps of Engineers to fund Ballinger Park.
– Creating a new federal program to fund infrastructure for medium sized cities (or a set-aside of funding within existing programs) for cities under 50,000 in population that face significant growth or transit investments.
– Supporting a refundable tax credit for Green Stormwater infrastructure, which would provide a federal tax credit to organizations and private citizens to recoup the costs of installing and maintaining green stormwater management systems. Such a program would incentivize water quality treatment in Mountlake Terrace for private property owners and provide a decreased cost for stormwater mitigation in new construction, he said.
– Requesting funding for Main Street in any federal infrastructure bill.
The City Council will have its annual retreat this Saturday, March 24, starting at 9:30 a.m. in interim Mountlake Terrace City Hall Council Chambers, 6100 219th St. S.W., 2nd floor.
— By Teresa Wippel