City Council to consider two rezones denied by planning commission

ARLINGTON – The City Council Monday will consider two property rezones recommended for denial unanimously by the planning commission that have neighbors worried that new multi-family housing will change the character of their neighborhoods and bring more traffic.

The rezone requests fueled testimony from residents in the Edgecomb/Gleneagle and Old Town areas, and a barrage of emails to city officials mainly opposed them.

In both instances, the planning commission had a hard time reconciling the two land use zones available to them – residential high-density allowing up to 15 dwelling units per acre vs. residential moderate density that permit six units per acre.

Meanwhile, a rezone denied by the council two years ago to build three-story apartments near 67th Avenue NE and 172nd Street NE is back for consideration, but it’s scaled down and smaller, and comes with conditions added by the property owner.

The Gill Riar family is requesting a rezone of 7.23 acres from residential low-to-moderate density to residential high density, offering a “development agreement” with the council to limit the kind and volume of housing that would be permitted for a future project. The agreement would apply to the land if it changed hands to a new owner.

Clay White, planning director at LDC Inc. in Woodinville and representative for the Riar application, said they would seek language in the agreement of no more than 13 dwelling units per acre. That would let a 90-plus two and three-story townhomes project go up in the future after permitting and public hearings, and help meet the affordable workforce housing need for the Manufacturing Industrial Center 1000 feet to the west. Apartments would not be among the housing options.

Opponents said they are leary that a development agreement will limit future housing, and much-needed transportation and widening improvements for 172nd east of 67th aren’t even on the drawing board.

The other rezone denied by the planning commission, Tic Toc, would seek rezoning a half acre at 606 Highland Drive from residential medium to high density, which would eventually hold two buildings with 21 units each and two duplexes.

Opponents said they are concerned the proposal will be a “foot in the door” that will rezone the entire south side of Highland Drive, change the complexion of the single-family neighborhood by adding apartments and add traffic congestion.

In trying to meet growth management projects and provide a place for adequate supply of “missing middle” house such as duplexes, triplexes and townhouses, the planning commission wrote:

“We do not currently have the land use tools necessary to accomplish this residential intensity without generating unacceptable levels of neighborhood resistance.”

City Councilwoman Jan Schuette serves on the Puget Sound Regional Council and is a key player for the Arlington Marysville Manufacturing Industrial Center that will bring more living-wage jobs to the city, but will also require more mixed housing and traffic improvements.

She read into the record and handed out a two-page brief that outlined the regulations and pressure conditions the city is under to plan for growth.

Schuette there are currently 1,400 units that are completed or will be completed in 2019, and 1,000 more coming in 2020 on land that is already zoned for high density or mixed use.

“Over the last four years we have seen enormous growth in the Puget Sound area, which has impacted our inventory of undeveloped land, and has forced cities to add density by building high density multi-family house,” she said. “You see that along the I-5 corridor.”

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