Mountlake Terrace City Council approves Town Center amendments



The Mountlake Terrace City Council approved five amendments designed to help further development of the Town Center during Monday’s meeting.

Councilmembers were united in support of all five amendments, which were voted on as ordinances, with the exception of Ordinance 2, which dealt with Transitional Uses Around the Town Center Perimeter.

City staff noted that the Town Center borders abutting residences in numerous locations, including along 55th Ave. W and 237th Ave. SW., where some of the larger Town Center developments are expected to take place.

What was eventually approved allows, on the residential side of the street, townhomes and well-buffered parking lots that would face the town center. A dense 15-foot vegetative screen would be required along the parking lot’s perimeter abutting any single family homes.

City staff indicated its belief that this will provide the needed impetus to more fully invest in the residential side of the street, which will then encourage quality development along the Town Center side of the street. Parking lots in the Transition Zone are allowed as off-site parking for businesses in the Town Center and have to be within 300 feet of the business. Paid parking lots are not allowed.

Mayor Pro Tem Laura Sonmore proposed an amendment to the motion supporting Ordinance 2 that would have eliminated parking lots in the Transition Zone. The amendment was defeated 4-3 with Mayor Jerry Smith and Councilmembers Bryan Wahl, Seaun Richards and Rick Ryan voting no and Sonmore and Councilmembers Kyoto Matsumoto Wright and Doug McCardle voting yes.

Sonmore was concerned that allowing parking in the Transition Zone changed the vision of the downtown. Sonmore made it clear she doesn’t have an issue with parking but asked how the 19 properties affected were selected. The issue of parking needs to be looked at further, Sonmore added.

McCardle asked if it was possible for all of the Transition Zone lots to be developed as parking lots. Community and Economic Development Director Steve Osguthorpe said that in theory it could happen, but in practical terms it was highly unlikely.

“I can’t imagine that ever happening,” Osguthorpe said.

Richards noted that one of the challenging issues facing the Arbor Village development is the lack of parking for businesses. At one time Richards operated a commercial business with no onsite parking and relied on street parking.

“I am opposed to striking out the parking lot idea,” Richards said.

Ryan also supporting parking in the Transition Zone, saying that it’s important to provide overflow parking that is easy to see.

“I like the idea,” Ryan said.

Wahl expressed a preference for townhomes in the Transition Zone but was OK with parking with the idea that over time properties would become more valuable.

Ordinance 2, which specified townhomes and parking in the Transition Zone, passed 5-2 with Smith, Wahl, Ryan and Matsumoto Wright supporting it and Sonmore and McCardle opposed.

The other four amendments dealt with adopting definitions (story and ground floor/studio and open bedroom studio) pertinent to residential units in Town Center; clarifying different Town Center Development Standards to facilitate pedestrian and retail activities; defining principle-use and on-site parking standards; and allowing closed stormwater systems under apartment and condominium buildings.

The Council also unanimously approved a Resolution in support of select projects on the Sound Transit 3 (ST3) Specific Priority Projects List.

The projects the City Council supported are:

  • The design and construction of an elevated station at I-5 and 220th Street SW along the Lynnwood Link Extension corridor
  • A parking structure for the 236th Street aerial station
  • Funding additional Transportation Oriented Development analysis and support conducted as part of project development in accordance with the TOD Policy
  • An extension of the light rail system to Everett
  • Any project that would fund capital and operating improvements for ST Express regional bus service to the 220th Street SW infill station and the 236th Street stations

– By David Pan


  1. Doesn’t the fact that the business level of Arbor Village has been vacant for the past 2 years give some indication at how grandiose the “Town Center” plans are? I once had a neighbor who had the same delusions of making MLT some kind of up-scale development with underground wiring. When he found out that his neighbors couldn’t afford his plans, he finally saw the light and moved elsewhere. I think the City Council should wait until the currently available space has been occupied before incurring additional city debt for plans and property acquisitions that may never amount to anything substantial.

  2. The answer to the question concerning council’s awareness of the meaning of the vacant commercial space at Arbor Village is, NO! Fortunately MLT is not bordered by cliffs or else council would have long since gone over them. Follow council for a while and you’ll find grandiose, delusional, and often clueless aptly describing much of their Downtown Planning process. For reference, please see the three failed City Hall measures or number four soon to be rolled out with equally grandiose fanfare.


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