Council approves new roads for Sunnyside, Whiskey Ridge

MARYSVILLE In the end a few people will have to make way for a new north-south route that will connect the East Sunnyside and Whiskey Ridge neighborhoods to SR 9 and SR 92 at this citys southern border.

  • Thursday, August 28, 2008 11:49am
  • News

MARYSVILLE In the end a few people will have to make way for a new north-south route that will connect the East Sunnyside and Whiskey Ridge neighborhoods to SR 9 and SR 92 at this citys southern border.
At a contentious Oct. 22 public hearing about 75 people spoke to oppose the unanimous adoption of changes to the citys comprehensive zoning plan. That plan will route traffic from the downtown core to highways east and south, through neighborhoods that were annexed into the city limits less than a year ago.
Many of those residents complained about proposed arterials that will displace them from at least part of their properties. The City Council heard a trio of proposals that would create new three- or five-lane arterials. Each of the options would require setbacks and financing by future development, but in the end the city chose to expand 71st and 67th avenues, creating a smooth curve up the hill near the new water tower on 71st Avenue NE. That route will connect with Soper Hill Road, but will require taking property from owners such as Jim and Jeri Short. They own several parcels comprising about four acres. The new designated route will carve out most of one parcel near 71st Avenue.
Its my home youre taking. Its one of my homes youre taking, Jeri Short told the Council. Ive worked 30 years for this property.
The Shorts and two other families hired their own traffic consultants and attorneys to fight the new road plan, to great effect. At one time the City Council stopped a meeting to hold an executive session after receiving a letter from their counsel. At the Oct. 22 meeting attorney Jennifer Dold spoke twice to counter 90 minutes of information from city staff and consultants, after members of the audience complained they were limited to three minutes apiece.
Dold said Marysville hasnt allowed enough public input into the process and has ignored directions from the Marysville Planning Commission to consider designating Sunnyside Boulevard as the principle connector.
We do not believe there has been adequate public participation, Dold told the Council.
There were only two hearings where the public could speak and staff peppered them numbers and tables that are confusing to laymen, she added. A series of recommendations from the planning commission were ignored, and city staff exaggerated the commissions request about Sunnyside Boulevard. One of the trio of options suggested the expansion of Sunnyside to five lanes. Dold said that was a red herring.
You dont need to expand Sunnyside to five lanes to accommodate future growth, Dold said. Its a false comparison to say you need five lanes all the way through.
One option would have done that, keeping 67th/71st as a minor arterial; another would have made 67th a five-lane principal connector. The option the Council voted for was a combination of three-lane roads on both.
Consultant Michael Stringham, of Perteet Engineers, showed aerial pictures and the impact to property owners if each road was expanded to either three or five lanes. A three-lane road needs 70 feet of width, and in several places the right-of-way requirements would impinge on houses severely, often requiring condemnation of the entire property.
These are known as takes and are sore points, because of the cost in money and heartaches city money and citizen heartaches. The three options presented to the council would have required partial takes, from 190 to as many as 366, with 23 to 45 complete takes, amounting to 445,000-square-feet. The costs for those expansions would be shared by private developers as they build in the area, and the city making up the difference. Estimates for the work ranged from $83 million to $106 million, with the city on the tab for $49 million, $50 million or $70 million.
The Council also considered options for a new arterial to connect SR 92 to 40th Street NE, through a dog-leg that would zig-zag using a wider 87th Avenue as the new north-south route. That route was chosen because it will be in the center of a 100-acre commercial zone, larger than Lakewood Crossing.
It would require too much pavement, too much right-of-way and would just dump all the traffic onto Fourth Street, objected resident Shelly Thomas.
Randall Garka lives on 87th and also objected.
Leave our little area alone, Garka said. Let us have our nice little neighborhood the way it is.
Marysville Chief Administrative Officer Mary Swenson said the city first used its power to deny utility services to projects in the area because plans for traffic and storm water werent up to snuff. The city got tired of inheriting problems that started under county planning and zoning rules. Thats one of the reasons the city annexed the 1,500-acre area, and thats why the city needs to plan for roads before developers build projects.
There is no second time, Swenson said. If you dont plan these roads, you dont have a second chance.
The new road scheme is just a plan that developers will be required to follow as they build their projects and that could be years away. Swenson acknowledged that tough decisions have to be made, affecting property owners, but in the past the city buckled to emotional pleas and now roads are messed up. Marysville doesnt have the option anymore, she added.
Councilmember Jeff Seibert asked planning director Gloria Hirashima about the consequences of delaying a decision. She answered that one 30-unit plat was in the works and could proceed if the amendments to the comprehensive plan werent made soon, meaning the city would have to route new roads around that project.
He asked Hirashima about opportunities for public input, and she listed several hearings, including other community meetings in the area. At one, planners tried to conduct charettes of what different options would look like but citizens objected and so Hirashima had a Q&A session instead. Several staff members said the detail level for this amendment was more thorough than any they had ever seen.
Seibert said he attended Council meetings for years before being elected and noticed a huge improvement in opportunities for citizen input. That doesnt mean they will be happy.
People dont always agree with the decisions we make, Seibert said. We have to look at the overall community, not just certain neighborhoods.

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