Residents get their way in docket process

Senior center plans advance; Harbour Heights Parkway plan denied
By Brandon Gustafson | Apr 03, 2019

The typically empty and quiet Mukilteo City Council chambers were packed with residents who wished to voice their opinions on the city’s 2019 comprehensive plan/zoning docket – primarily on the Harbour Heights Parkway property, where the Boeing Harbour Pointe Technical Center is, and property at the trailhead for Japanese Gulch on 76th Street Southwest, which the Mukilteo Seniors Association wants to use for a senior center.

Luckily for the vast majority of residents who spoke on the issues Monday, April 1, the Mukilteo City Council sided with them.

Regarding Harbour Heights Parkway, the property owner wanted a comprehensive plan map amendment to change the property from “industrial” to “multifamily residential – high density,” with a rezone from “business park” to “multifamily residential – 22 dwelling units per acre.”

Currently, the property in the 6500 block of Harbour Heights Parkway in Harbour Pointe is the home of the Boeing Harbour Pointe Technical Center. Boeing is undecided about renewing its lease, so the property owner requested the rezone, which covers roughly 22 acres of their property, so the land could potentially be used for housing, with a maximum of 22 units per acre.

City staff recommended that application be placed on the final docket.

In addition, the Mukilteo Seniors Association wanted a comprehensive plan map amendment from “parks and open space” to just “open space” with a rezone from to “public/semi-public,” which would allow for a senior center to be built near the Japanese Gulch trailhead.

For those unfamiliar with the docketing process, residents and interested parties submit applications to the city proposing amendments to the city’s comprehensive plan and/or development regulations. City staff review the applications before presenting them to the Mukilteo City Council with recommendations for what should be placed on the final docket.

City staff recommended the Mukilteo Seniors Association application be denied because it would potentially require the city to amend the 2016 Japanese Gulch Master Plan, which rejected using that land for a senior center. Staff also said they need to do more research on whether a senior center is needed, as well as potential costs to the city. A senior-needs assessment is on the council’s agenda at its worksession next Monday.

Per the city’s agenda bill on the preliminary docket discussion: “Placement of an application on the final docket by the City Council means the application warrants in-depth consideration, but does not in any way imply eventual adoption or approval of the proposal.”

Harbour Heights Parkway

This item brought out the vast majority of those in attendance, had had the most public comment of any City Council item in some time.

Homeowners near the property, including presidents of nearby homeowners associations, came out in full force against the amendment and rezoning, citing traffic, potential loss of waterfront views, negative impacts to nearby property values, neighborhood character, environmental issues, parking, school overcrowding, lack of an apparent plan for the property, and potential low-income housing.

Residents noted the application covers more than 22 acres, and at 22 units per acre, that could lead to nearly 500 property units. At three people per property, that could be nearly 1,500 new Mukilteo residents.

Lynn Watkins, a mother who said she’s a former educator, said her children attend, or have attended, nearby Endeavour Elementary, and their class sizes have already been increasing from the lows 20s to the mid- to high-20s.

“I’ve seen the impact of growth upon that area in schools,” she said. “It feels like our schools are already at capacity and there’s not a lot of room for growth … that’s a really large concern for me.”

Mukilteo resident Michael Gamble agreed with many concerns past speakers had mentioned, and addressed that the road is one-way, and that adding 1,200 to 1,500 new residents may significantly impact the city’s first responders.

“I want everyone to consider the impact not only on schools, but your fire, police, even medical facilities,” he said. “We can only sustain so much.”

The land’s property owner, Joe Lazore, was also in attendance, and said the docket request was just for further study, and that he didn’t have a development plan in place.

“We can do the math on unit counts, but just because something is zoned for 22 units per acre, it doesn’t mean that is what’s delivered,” he said.

Lazore also said it’s unclear whether Boeing will continue to lease the Harbour Heights Parkway property.

“We’re currently doing everything we can to keep them. This whole thing came up about a year ago,” Lazore said. “We purchased the property, and then they moved about 600 people to Renton, and we though oh boy, writing’s on the wall, what are we going to do?”

Lazore said if Boeing doesn’t renew its lease, it would be tough to find another tenant for the building at the property, and that other construction under industrial zoning wouldn’t fit well with the nearby neighborhoods.

Development Director Dave Osaki said the questions and concerns from the public warranted the item moving on to the final docket.

“We won’t know the answer to these questions unless it moved onto the docket,” he said. “We can’t answer some of these questions because we just don’t know.”

Osaki also noted that just because it is placed onto the final docket, it doesn’t mean the application will be accepted.

Councilmember Bob Champion said there were a lot of questions that needed addressed on that property, and wondered whether the city’s staff could take on that workload with other pressing needs going on. He requested the developer come back to the city in the future with a clearer plan.

 

Senior center

It’s no secret that seniors in Mukilteo have been looking for a place to call their own for many years.

The Mukilteo Seniors Association uses the Rosehill Community Center often, but doesn’t have a dedicated space in the facility.

Osaki said the city staff recommended this not be placed on the final docket due to potentially having to change the city’s Japanese Gulch Master Plan, and that the city hasn’t determined if there is a need for a senior center because it hasn’t done a needs assessment.

Mukilteo Seniors Association President Dode Carlson she was told by the Council for Aging that Mukilteo is the only city in Snohomish County without its own dedicated senior center.

“We’re famous for that, by the way,” she said.

Carlson also spoke about why a senior center was necessary in Mukilteo.

“It’s not so much a building with a couch, it’s a building where low-income people can come and get fed subsidized food,” Carlson said. “It wouldn’t be a big impact up there … all we’re asking is permission.”

Carlson also said the seniors don’t want the city to pay for it, and are looking for outside revenue sources.

Kristin Mack Hammer, the owner of Nature Together, a shop and outdoor preschool in Mukilteo, isn’t a senior, but spoke on behalf of the seniors because she wants seniors and younger generations to have a place where they can connect.

“We would get our preschoolers working with the seniors. We’ve talked about having the seniors sign up with the preschoolers to take a hike in the (Japanese) Gulch, to eat lunch with my preschoolers, to read a story, or do artwork,” Hammer said.

James Yoo, who ran for Mukilteo City Council Position 1, held currently by Council Vice President Anna Rohrbough, wanted elected officials to do what they said they’d do while campaigning for office.

“If you pledged during the campaign, I hope you keep your promise.”

Ultimately, the council went against the staff’s recommendations for the two applications, and declined the Harbour Heights Parkway property application and moved the seniors’ application forward. The city also moved an application for rezoning 15,000 square feet on 84th Street Southwest to community business from single family residential, and amending the comprehensive plan to commercial-mixed use.

Now that the final docket is set, according to the agenda bill, the city’s staff will begin an analysis of each item and process them through a standard amendment process. That process includes requesting additional information and fees from the applicant, and includes public comment, an environmental review, a Mukilteo Planning Commission public hearing/recommendation, and then City Council action at a later date.

 

 

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