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Mville passes Sunnyside, Whiskey Ridge plan

MARYSVILLE City leaders backed off from a plan to dramatically increase traffic impact fees for new buildings in Marysville, opting to charge $6,300 per single family residence and $2,000 per new commercial peak hour trips generated.
The City Council had heard proposals to raise that to between $7,700 to almost $10,000 per unit but settled for the lower amount after developers complained it would hurt their businesses and reduce the supply of affordable housing. The city could have potentially levied up to $14,550.
The unanimous vote at the April 23 City Council meeting also approved the new zoning and master plan for the newly-annexed East Sunnyside and Whiskey Ridge areas. That 2,500-acre swath of land came into city boundaries last December and city planners identified several new roads that will have to be built to provide access to the areas next to SR 9.
The impact fees were adjusted in light of a huge increase in the cost of building roads and the addition of two projects in the annexation. Inflation costs alone drove up the citys transportation wish list from $76 million in 2003 to $188 million today. The two projects needed in the Sunnyside area added $40 million to that number.
Initially the city proposed charging builders of projects in that area an additional fee to pay for those connectors, but the Council backed down earlier this spring in the face of vocal opposition from the building lobby. Now the projects are part of the citys overall transportation plan and the fees affect all projects in the city.
About 80 residents attended the public hearing at City Hall on Monday night. Most speakers complained the new roads would devastate their neighborhoods and many property owners said their homes would be ruined by the city taking right-of-way to create wider roads.
Wendy and James Alt said they moved to the area four years ago from West Seattle to build a home on land belonging to their family since 1924. Now the planned road connections will upset their dream.
This was a place to raise our children, Wendy Alt said, complaining that she was not notified about process. You do have to consider the people that have been living there.
Her husband said residents were scammed by erroneous engineering studies and said the wetlands on his properties are already suffering from increased building in the area.
The plan is to drive people through our neighborhoods, and not around us, he told the Council. You create an inertia by approving a plan like this.
Jeri Short lives on 40th NE, one of the planned major routes, and she wasnt happy. She was emotional as the told the panel how she and her husband bought additional property in the area so their four kids could build houses nearby.
Now youve destroyed all that. Youre going to go right through my property, Short said. Its physically making me sick that you guys can do this stuff without talking to us.
A couple speakers rose to laud the city, including Barbara Miller and Heather Izzard. Miller said she has been able to get all the information shes needed for the dozen families she represented during the two years she has been involved in the annexation and rezoning process. Marysville has had open doors and plenty of information for anyone who wanted it, she said.
Youve been very thorough, youve been very attentive, Miller said, urging the Council to approve the master plan.
Izzard seconded her notions, even though that means her family will likely have to pull up stakes.
Were ready to move on, Izzard said. Wed just like a decision to be made.
Builders said they were still unhappy with the fees, and complained that new residences are charged more than commercial structures. Marysville has about $461 million of commercial structures and $1.5 billion in houses, according to assistant public works director Kevin Nielsen. But commercial pays much more in taxes than residential, from 165 percent to 232 percent more. Chief Administrative Officer Mary Swenson said some of those sales taxes are used to pay for roads, but most go to other city functions.
This is a huge balancing act, Swenson said. General fund money has to pay for police, parks and a whole bunch of things.
She acknowledged the hardships the new roads will create for people living in the area, but the annexation came through work with people who lived in the area and asked to be included in Marysville boundaries.
Its very difficult on property owners, Swenson said, noting the nature of the neighborhoods is changing but the die was cast a long time ago during negotiations with Snohomish County. Other parts of the city didnt build a grid and are now messed up with traffic.
If we dont do it right, youre going to live with it forever, Swenson said.
After the vote James Alt said it was clear to him everything was a done deal and that he was disappointed. He didnt see how the city would be able build a road through the wetlands on his property.
City Councilman Jeff Vaughan applauded engineers and planners for their hard work and said the Council did the right thing. People will be thankful for the decision for years to come, he said.
Councilman Lee Phillips said he was concerned about claims folks werent notified about proceedings, although he was happy with the staff work on the issue.
Maybe thats something to chew on, Phillips said.
The final adoption of the plan will be voted on at the City Councils May 14 meeting. About $40 million of the new transit projects could be paid for by the states RTID on the ballot this November, and traffic impact fees could be revised to reflect that if the three-county funding measure passes.

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