Mountlake Terrace City Councilmembers, city staff and consultants, and a few citizens donned their comfortable shoes Monday night for a walking tour of possible changes in Town Center building heights and zoning under the draft subarea plan recommended by the city planning commission.
The walking tour of affected neighborhoods was suggested by Councilmember Laura Sonmore as a way for the council to get a better feel for the proposed changes, aimed at accommodating expected growth stemming from light rail’s arrival in 2024.
Starting at the Mountlake Terrace Library (1 on the walking tour map above), participants headed east to 58th Avenue West. Consultant Bill Trimm pointed across the street, noting that under the draft plan, that area would be zoned TC-2, with 4-8 story buildings permitted.
This area includes current buildings like the Mountlake Terrace Plaza senior living facility as well as the West Plaza shopping center. (Officials have stressed that these zoning changes would only apply when property is sold, and that current use will continue as long as residents and business owners keep their existing properties.)
The group then headed south along 58th to stop 2, where the zoning would transition at 235th to TC-1, allowing buildings 6-12 stories in height.
This zoning would continue south to 237th Street Southwest, with the zone bordered on the east by 56th Avenue West and on the west by the transit center/light rail station. (As indicated by the draft Land Use District map above, an additional TC-1 zone would be located north of the light rail station along Interstate 5, bordered on the north by 232nd Street Southwest.)
From there, it was a walk east on 237th to 56th Avenue West and stop 3, where Trimm talked about the Planning Commission’s draft plan proposal — supported by staff — to remove the transition zones on the southern border between 237th and 238th. The reason? If the Town Center is ever going to expand, it’s likely expand to the south, and removing that transition zone would accommodate that, Trimm added.
Then the group headed east to 56th and viewed a “shared access corridor” located between the Arbor Village apartments and the building directly south. It was noted, however, that this corridor is narrower than what is considered ideal. Consultant Bob Bengford, who works for Makers Architecture and Urban Design, said the idea is to provide 30 feet of space between units facing each other.
Then, the group walked east on 236th to 55th Avenue West and stop 4, where participants discussed a proposal by the planning commission to allow multi-family housing east of Arbor Village.
The next stop — 5 –– was a visit to 234th — then a walk through the Calvary Church parking lot to West Plaza — where the group talked about the idea for adding a new 57th street in the TC-2 zone. New city street grids featuring smaller blocks would be more pedestrian focused as opposed to long “super blocks.” The vision is to create a retail, restaurant, and arts and culture corridor on this new street.
The final two stops — 6 and 7 — were at 57th and 60th Avenues West along 232nd, where the group took a look at neighborhoods proposed for TC-2 zone of 4-8 stories.
The next Mountlake Terrace City Council review of the Planning Commission’s recommendations on the Town Center draft plan and development regulations is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 3. During that meeting, the council is expected to review and discuss several decision points including Town Center core boundary, Town Center districts, building heights and parking. Public comment will be accepted at this meeting.
Citizen comments are encouraged in several ways: By attending a council meeting to provide verbal comments, writing a letter to the city council or emailing Christy Osborn at [email protected]. All comments are a part of the public record being forwarded to the city council as they continue to review the plan and supporting documents.
Future meetings planned to discuss the plan include Thursday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. (public hearing) and Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m., unless the city council needs additional time.
All meeting dates are tentative. Reconfirm with the City Clerk’s Office closer to the dates at 425-744-6206 or [email protected]. You may visit www.cityofmlt.com/469 for city council meeting agendas, materials, and audio. All the meetings will begin at 7 p.m. in the Interim City Hall Council Chambers, 6100 219th St. S.W., #220, Mountlake Terrace.
If you want to get a perspective of these taller buildings, here’s drone footage from Landsverk Quality Homes that shows the Mountlake Terrace Town Center from several locations — at 100 feet and 150 feet. One hundred feet is approximately the height of an eight-story building and 150 feet is approximately the height of a 12-story building. (Video courtesy NextMLT.
— Story and photos by Teresa Wippel