Council hears update on Town Center Planning in MLT

The most recent Town Center map draft, presented at the April 6 planning commission meeting.

Among the items presented to the Mountlake Terrace City Council at its Thursday, April 11 work/study session was an update on the planning process for Town Center.

Community and Economic Development Director Christy Osborn noted that is has been about a year since the council appointed the 11-member Economic Vitality and Town Center Task Force. The task force was directed to assist consultant SCJ Alliance in updating the city’s 2007 Town Center Plan and its Economic Vitality Strategy, development codes and standards.

The task force held 11 meetings and open houses were also conducted to gather community input on draft proposals and concepts, Osborn said. The task force presented its recommended Town Center Subarea Plan during a Dec. 17 special joint meeting that included the city council and planning commission.

Since that time, the planning commission has been reviewing the plan, and has met six times. Assistant City Manager Stephen Clifton said the commission has been looking at the current Town Center boundaries and districts, including a part of the original Town Center that was removed during the last update. This district, which can be seen in the above map, is being referred to as TC-R (for Town Center Reserve), Clifton added.

A number of citizens and property owners have come to commission meetings to ask questions and raise concerns about the Town Center planning process, Clifton said. Those comments and the city’s responses are being compiled as the meetings occur and are available for review a part of the planning commission agendas on the city’s website.

The commission is also reviewing what types of uses will be allowed in each of the proposed Town Center zones, as well as the parking ratios. (This is generally defined as the total rentable square footage of a property divided by the number of parking spaces.) For comparison purposes, consultants are looking at parking ratios for other cities that have, or will have, high-capacity transit nearby, such as downtown Redmond, Overlake, Shoreline and Lynnwood.

The commission has four more meetings scheduled in the next two months on the Town Center issue, and a public hearing on the matter is tentatively scheduled for June 10, Clifton said.

Staff is working on an internal draft for design standards — to be used as a guide for development — and that will also be presented to the planning commission, Osborne said.

“We’ve completed a lot of the work around the Town Center planning, it’s just fine tuning at this point with the planning commission to get it to the council,” Osborn added.

“The goal of the current effort is to have a subarea plan, an economic vitality element, the zoning code update, the design standards and the planned action SEPA (State Environrmental Policy Act) all done at the end of this process,” Clifton said. In that way, once the plan receives council approval, “it will be ready to go.”

(A planned action involves detailed SEPA review and preparation of Environmental Impact Statement documents in conjunction with subarea plans, consistent with state law, prior to approval. This provides more certainty for developers when proposing projects.)

By coordinating all these efforts, Osborn said, it ensures that the city can “hit the ground running” with a plan for developing Town Center.

— By Teresa Wippel



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