MLT Council appoints Diversity Commission members, OKs final plan for Creekside Meadows project, increases pet licensing fees

Mountlake Terrace city councilmembers and staff meet Monday night.

Measures for local construction projects, updating the municipal pet licensing program and appointing community members to the new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission were all unanimously approved by the Mountlake Terrace City Council at its Sept. 21 meeting. The city also acknowledged two civic recognition awards it recently received.

Changes made to the pet licensing program involve the yearly fees and timeline. The cost for yearly animal licenses will be increasing on Oct. 1, 2020. The new costs offer savings to owners of dogs and cats that have been spayed or neutered and a separate senior discount for pet owners over 65 years of age.

The city has not raised its pet licensing fees in seven years despite facing increased costs for animal control efforts and services. They help to cover the costs of a half-time employee along with kenneling fees and veterinary treatment for animals provided through PAWS. City staff determined that the price increases are in line with the licensing fees for nearby cities.

After Oct. 1, pet licenses will be valid for a rolling 12-month period of one year from the date on which they are issued. The adjustment will make the program’s timeline similar to licensing tabs for vehicles. Previously the certifications lasted from January to December of each calendar year. This resulted in pet owners paying for a full year even if they owned an animal for a shorter period of time.

Two different municipal construction projects and their attendant funding mechanisms were also approved at Monday night’s meeting.

The council granted City Manager Scott Hugill permission to sign an agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation accepting a grant for $360,000 to support Phase II of the Main Street project. Those funds will be used for pedestrian crossing beacons, underground infrastructure to accommodate potential future traffic signals at the intersections of 230th Street Southwest and 234th Street Southwest, and modifications to a planned stormwater detention facility. An additional potential feature, such as a landscaped median island, may be added on 56th Avenue West, north of 230th Street Southwest.

The council also approved a separate project agreement for the intersection of 216th Street Southwest and 48th Avenue West, as part of the Safe Routes to School grant program. Under the agreement, the state will provide up to approximately $468,000 toward all of the project’s phases, and the city will kick in local matching funds estimated to total just over $190,000.

The project will make physical improvements to provide safer walking and bicycling conditions for students attending Mountlake Terrace Elementary and Mountlake Terrace High School. It will include continuous sidewalks, construct ADA compliant curb ramps, include curb bulbs on all four corners of the intersection, install a flashing beacon pedestrian crossing warning system and two vehicle speed feedback signs. Grant funds received for the project will also feature a safety educational component and encourage students to walk and/or bike to school.

“This has been a area that’s received a lot of comments from the community,” Hugill said of the city’s recommendation for the safety improvements and measures.

In addition, councilmembers gave their final approval for a new housing development after a public hearing and review process. The approved plan calls for a rezone ordinance to the Creekside Meadows development located at 7011 226th Pl. S.W., which will subdivide the almost 10-acre property into 55 single-family lots and create a new street.

It will feature multiple open spaces, a central park and walkways. Those spaces will allow public access but be maintained by the homeowners’ association. The project also includes property enhancements to degraded stream and wetland buffers.

Final approval of the housing development was subject to a number of standards and conditions, which city Senior Planner Edith Duttlinger told the council had been met. The city’s Planning Commission recommended last week that the council approve the proposed project and rezoning necessary for it to move forward.

Craig Steepy, who appeared at the meeting as a project applicant and director of land development for Century Communities, said that construction is “fairly far along.” He expected that the project’s roads would be paved by the end of the week and said if people were to drive by, they would “really be able to start seeing how this community is really going to start looking.”

The council also moved to adopt the city’s required self-assessment and transition plan under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). The plan serves to ensure that people with disabilities receive equitable access and mobility along the city’s right-of-way —  allowing them to participate in and enjoy the benefits of local services and activities without experiencing discrimination.

Traffic Engineer Marc Seferian had previously presented the results of the city’s self-assessment and plans for transition at the council’s Aug. 13 work/study session.

The council also appointed seven community members to the city’s newly-created Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission.

Alvaro Guillen, William Paige, Jr. and Triina Van will serve for terms that expire in 2022. Saboora Deen, Samatra Doyle, Gary Hale and Karissa Richards were appointed to terms that expire in 2023. None of the candidates had expressed specific term preferences, so the initial staggered term lengths were then selected randomly for all members.

It is expected that the new commission will meet at least once per month, with their first forum occurring in October. The city has created a webpage for citizens to stay up to date on the commission’s meetings and events.

The city council’s subcommittee had conducted interviews with 19 applicants before making their final recommendations last week. An individual council liaison to the commission has yet to be determined.

Members of the council’s subcommittee said that narrowing the list of candidates to seven was a tough decision.

“It was a really nice opportunity to hear from a wide variety of our community who really want to be involved,” Councilmember Erin Murray said. “This commission will represent a variety of perspectives and look to bring the broader community’s voices to the table.”

Mayor Pro Tem Doug McCardle noted that the recommended individuals represent the city well in terms of its demographics for equity, inclusion and diversity as well as professional and volunteer experience in this field.

Mayor Matsumoto Wright and others on the council encouraged applicants who were not chosen to stay involved and on the lookout for other future opportunities.

Finally, Recreation and Parks Director Jeff Betz presented two awards the city recently earned.

Mountlake Terrace has been recognized as a Tree City USA.

Mountlake Terrace has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a “Tree City USA” and received a plaque and two street signs to display; placement of those signs will be determined later. The recognition requires the community to have a tree management program that manages and expands public tree inventories, invest a yearly minimum of $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrate Arbor Day. There are approximately 3,400 communities that have earned the designation.

Betz said the award was the result of a group effort and thanked the council and other city departments for their efforts in making it happen.

The city was also recognized with a “WellCity” award by the Association of Washington Cities. The city uses the association for its employee health benefits and as a result of meeting all of the requirements demonstrating health engagement it will now earn a two percent discount on medical premiums. In addition to that discount the it is now also qualified to receive mini grants that help to fund programs and equipment that address employee needs, interests or priorities.

Councilmember Bryan Wahl was not present at Monday night’s meeting, so all voting motions were passed by a margin of 6-0.

Councilmember Murray also encouraged any residents who are not registered to vote, to attend an upcoming voter registration drive this Saturday, Sept. 26 from 1-3 pm in the parking lot of the old Roger’s Marketplace at 23120 56th Ave .W. Learn more here.

— By Nathan Blackwell

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