Increased traffic and construction impacts topped the list of concerns expressed by a group of about 50 neighbors who gathered Wednesday night to learn more about a 56-home development proposed for the current Creekside Church property on 226th Place Southwest.
Century Communities — which also developed Atworth Commons on 56th Avenue West and 218th Street Southwest in Mountlake Terrace — has proposed to replace the existing church building and paved parking area at 7011 226th Pl. S.W. with a project known as Creekside Meadows.
Senior Planner Edith Duttlinger noted that while the city isn’t required to hold a public meeting on the development, officials did so based on the size of the project, which is exceptional because it involves 9.9 acres and 56 single-family detached homes.
“Most of the development that the community sees is redevelopment” of existing properties, Duttlinger noted.
The site is zoned RS 8400, meaning each lot must be 8,400 square feet and under that designation could hold 51 lots. The proposal is for 56 homes to be built under what is known as a planned unit development, which will “overlay” the current RS 8400 zone.
Most recently the site has been home to Creekside Church, which has relocated to Lynnwood. Many years ago, it was also home to Ballinger Elementary School. The current church building sits near the entrance to the property, and there is a paved parking lot, all surrounded by open space. There is a steep hillside to the east, and a creek and wetland buffer to the west.
The plan is to demolish all existing buildings and make site improvements. The eastern hillside would be stabilized through the use of soldier pile walls. Stormwater would be collected onsite and discharged through underground pipes.
As a planned unit development, or PUD, the city imposes requirements for open space that is available to the public. The city’s minimum requirement for open space is 15 percent, but the Creekside Meadows development sets aside about 35 percent. The PUD also requires that the development have a unified architectural theme — “it all kind of needs to work together,” Duttlinger said.
The project features a comprehensive pedestrian circulation system from the public street into and through the development, and into the open spaces.
These common areas would be available to the public, just like a public park would be, from dawn to dusk, Duttlinger said.
Because it is a planned unit development, the property requires a rezone. Duttingler said the property underwent a SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) review, and was issued a determination of non-significance.
When it came time for audience questions, a major concern was increased traffic the project would bring to 226th Place Southwest (which turns into 228th Street Southwest as it heads east toward 66th Avenue West). Traffic impacts on that street have already been a source of past complaints as drivers use it as an alternative route between Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace.
Duttlinger replied that a traffic impact analysis conducted for the development proposal shows that there are currently 3,100 average daily trips along 226th Place Southwest/228th Street Southwest between 73rd Place Southwest and 66th Avenue West. It’s estimated that the proposed development would add 533 trips, which “does not reach the threshold for making street improvements,” she said.
In addition, although residents are concerned about speeders, the traffic analysis also shows that cars are going just 2 or 3 miles per hour over the posted 25 mph limit, she said — a statement that drew murmurs of disbelief from attendees.
There were also questions about the plan for just one entrance and exit, which would funnel all traffic from the housing development onto 226th Place Southwest. The applicant has proposed traffic calming measures at the development entrance to improve safety and traffic flow, Duttlinger said.
A woman asked about the impact of the proposed development on the schools, noting that children living in the new housing would attend now-crowded Westgate Elementary, College Place Middle and Edmonds-Woodway High School.
The Edmonds School District checks in regularly with local cities, including Mountlake Terrace, to update its capital plans when new housing developments are proposed, Duttlinger replied.
Neighbors also wondered about the impacts of increased construction-related traffic, including large trucks traveling to and from the site. Duttlinger said that any construction has to include a traffic control plan that must be approved by the city. One man also asked if 226th Place Southwest would have to be torn up for sewer line connections to the new housing. Duttlinger said she didn’t know but promised to find out.
Some attendees suggested the city address other ongoing traffic problems that the neighborhood faces before adding a new development to the mix.
“If the city wants to put a new neighborhood inside of a neighborhood, then the old neighborhood should be taken care of as well,” one woman said to scattered applause.
As for next steps, the Mountlake Terrace Planning Commission will hold a workshop on the proposal Tuesday, Nov. 13 at interim city hall, followed by a commission public hearing two weeks later. The city council is scheduled to have a work session on the proposal in early December, followed by a public hearing Dec. 17. Both of those meetings will also be in city hall.
The developer hopes to begin construction in spring 2019, pending necessary city approvals.
— Story and photos by Teresa Wippel