Council Holds Public Hearing on Preliminary Design Standards; Committees will cover a range of issues on Tuesday

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Susan McLaughlin, Director of Development Services, center row – right, speaks to Edmonds City Council on interim design standards Tuesday night.

During a special Tuesday night City Council business meeting, community members put forward their ideas for possible changes to the City of Edmonds’ already adopted interim design standards for multi-family housing in downtown Edmonds’ BD2 zone.

The council will decide at its next meeting on June 21 whether to maintain the interim standards it approved on April 21, which aim to address concerns sparked by a 24-unit apartment building being built for the 600 block of Main Street in New York was proposed as a BD2 zone. The Council was required to hold a public hearing within 60 days of the adoption of the interim standards.

The aim of the interim standards is the inner-city compatibility of apartment buildings with a focus on three requirements: building materials, private open spaces and street-side open space or pedestrian areas.

During the public hearing, Edmonds resident Greg Brewer said the interim standards were “not clear or comprehensive. Policies must be formulated so that citizens, developers, planners, building officials and council members are all on the same page. The less subjectivity in the standards, the better for everyone.”

Lynda Fireman, who lives in a condo across the street from the proposed Main Street apartment building, expressed frustration that citizens had so little time to voice their opinions Tuesday night. (The meeting took place between regularly scheduled Council Committee meetings and therefore only lasted 30 minutes.)

Resident Michelle Dotsch asked the council to consider, as part of the interim standards, the standards adopted as part of the council-approved Highway 99 sub-area plan. She pointed to recommendations for sub-areas that said that when intensive development connects residential areas, these should include “setback and setback standards for multi-family housing adjacent to single-family zoning.”

After the council heard public testimony, Edmonds Senior Planner Mike Clugston noted that the council has already adopted the interim design standards and now has two options — keep them temporarily while the Edmonds Planning Board works to develop permanent standards, or use them altogether “and have no standards at all.” The interim standards expire on October 1, and the hope is that permanent standards will be in place by then.

During Tuesday night’s committee meetings, council members discussed a range of issues, from a proposed regulation on the city’s fines for fireworks, to a state grant application to study missing middle housing, to fee waivers for early learning facilities.

Here are the highlights:

In the Public Safety, Personnel, and Planning (PSPP) Committee, council members considered a motion by Mayor Mike Nelson to amend the council ordinance, passed in 2020, that would increase the fine for setting off fireworks in Edmonds to $500 for a first-time offense. dollars was increased. The reason for the proposed change, City Attorney Jeff Taraday explained, is that under state law, the city court is now also required to obtain a public safety and education assessment, which makes the total fine for fireworks higher than the $500 approved by the council would. No decisions were made on that point Tuesday night as several issues required further investigation, and committee members agreed to bring the matter to full council for future discussion.

Also in the PSPP, Committee Members Laura Johnson and Susan Paine agreed to submit approval of the Council’s agenda an approval of an employee application to apply for a Missing Middle housing grant from the US Department of Commerce through a program authorized by the Washington State Legislature 2022. As part of the grant, the city would be required to “evaluate and review” allowing missing medium-sized housing on 30% of zoned single-family homes and also conduct a racial equity analysis. Development Director Susan McLaughlin said it makes sense to apply for the grant money because the city needs to conduct this type of analysis as part of its 2024 update to the Comprehensive Plan. Acceptance of the grant does not require the city to issue ordinances to address missing funds, she added. For more information, see these Trading Department FAQs here.

In the Parks and Public Works (PPW) Committee, Committee members Neil Tibbott and Kristiana Johnson discussed information from Angie Feser, Director of Parks, Recreation, Cultural Services and Human Services, regarding a proposed inter-local agreement with the City of Lynnwood to refurbish the Meadowdale Playfields. Lynnwood has proposed building a fully inclusive playground there, with the City of Edmonds covering half the $500,000 cost. Council members agreed to refer the matter to the full Council for discussion.

Council members Neil Tibbott (above) and Kristiana Johnson (below) listen as Transportation Engineer Bertrand Haus discusses the transit improvement project at 76th Avenue West and 220th Street Southwest.

Also on the PPW, committee members heard updates from Rob English, Acting Director of Public Works, and Bertrand Haus, Transportation Engineer, on several items. One of these was planned improvements to street intersections at 76th Avenue West and 220th Street Southwest. The city received grants for the proposal, but determined after further study that a revised configuration would require fewer acquired rights of way, reducing the overall cost by nearly $2 million. Staff would need to return to permitting agencies for approval of a revised scope of work, English explained. The full council will receive a presentation on this project on June 21st.

Another PPW point was the commencement of design work for a traffic signal communication/coordination system for five signalized intersections on State Route 104 from 236th Street Southwest to 226th Street Southwest. This adaptive system will improve traffic flow and reduce vehicle emissions, and English notably noted that it would “address the impulses you get when the ferry is unloading”. The city secured a $287,000 federal transportation grant for the design phase, with $123,000 in local matching funds. During the design phase, the city will try to fund construction, English added. Committee members agree to place this item on the June 21 approval agenda for approval.

Finally, the committee heard a presentation in English on a proposal to update the Edmonds City Code to allow the city to waive road and parking fees for early learning facilities. City officials have suggested that the city give early childhood education institutions a partial waiver — not exceeding 80% — of the assessed impact fee. 25% of the children and families using the facility would in turn have to qualify for government-subsidized childcare, including early childhood education and care. If the property is converted for use other than an early childhood education facility, the owner of the property would have to pay the fees applicable at the time of the conversion.

“This would facilitate the establishment of new early childhood education centers in Edmonds,” prosecutor Jeff Taraday said of the proposal.

Committee members agreed to submit this item to the full Council for review on June 21.

— By Teresa Wippel

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