Council approves Smokey Point moratorium

MARYSVILLE The Marysville City Council squashed new building applications in the Smokey Point area and hired a consultant to examine how new traffic impact fees could be levied.
The unanimous votes at the March 19 meeting also included a revision of a resolution supporting any four-year university for north Snohomish County, whether affiliated with an existing institution or not.
Council workshops are usually for discussion only with action taken a week later at formal meetings where the public can speak, but the three items were rushed onto the agenda for quick action.
The building moratorium was passed without exception after Community Development Director Gloria Hirashima explained that a 2003 zoning law resulted in a project that doesnt fit the future manufacturing center planned by the city for that area.
The 2003 regulation allowed for projects with a minimum size of 60 acres to be zoned for general commercial with a 20 percent residential component. General commercial is mostly used for retail with some light industrial applications, and master planning means developers have to route roads and utilities in a way that allows connections to other roads and makes sense from a wider planning standpoint. One project assembled the essential acreage but went in a direction the city didnt like.
It wasnt quite what we expected, Hirashima told the Council.
Effective immediately, the ordinance will prohibit the vesting of new permits while the city planning commission takes public testimony and recommends any changes to the Council. City attorney Grant Weed said public hearings would have to be held within 60 days according to state law.
Hirashima said the original intent for the 2003 ordinance was to create mixed-use projects, but after the only project in the area was vested, that firm dropped all the components except the residential segment. That project is moving forward, legally, according to Hirashima. The Smokey Point area has long been designated for manufacturing and a 687-acre annexation of land there was completed last month. The moratorium affects an area from I-5 on the west to Hayho Creek on the east.
The interest here is not to prevent any master plan from being submitted, just those with 20 percent residential, Hirashima cautioned. We tailored this as narrowly as we can.
Ordinance No. 2691 passed unanimously.
The council also unanimously authorized a $5,000 study to examine options for new road taxes, and whether new transportation impact fees can be levied on only certain neighborhoods or the entire city boundaries. The issue is pertinent because the new 1,500-acre annexation of the Sunnyside and Whiskey Ridge neighborhoods is being master planned by the city and part of the plan involves how to pay for new roads in the area. Builders and developers balked at the idea of a secondary impact fee that would only have affected projects in that area; they claimed the city was double dipping by hitting them twice. The city backed down in the face of potential litigation and postponed adoption of the new master plan approved by the planning commission until an April 23 public hearing. The $5,000 contract with Perteet Engineering will help them make up their minds.
It will certainly inform what we bring to you, said Public Works Director Paul Roberts.
The study is needed for three reasons: the Master Builders Association doesnt like the idea, they have well-heeled lawyers, and the matter has not been settled in court before this.
Because its breaking new ground, thats why they dont like it, Hirashima said before the March 19 meeting.
After the results of the study are in the planning commission will likely have to start from scratch, she added.
The last action item included revising a resolution passed just a week before. Snohomish County and just about every city in it are salivating over the prospects for a new, four-year university to be sited anywhere north of King County to serve the burgeoning population here. But the political realm is torn over the whether such a university would be a separate, stand alone technical college or affiliated with an existing institution such as a branch campus of the University of Washington or Washington State University. The City Council unanimously corrected itself or amplified the sentiment that it doesnt matter, as long as the county gets a university, period.

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