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Downtown Everett rezone plan moves forward

EVERETT — After about two dozen meetings, a few years of planning, and many rounds of public input, a zoning plan for a denser downtown Everett moved out of the Planning Commission on its way to City Council.
The Metro Everett plan will dictate building heights, make provisions for light rail, and update parking regulations along with regulating business and residential developments. Some provisions, like parking restrictions are not limited to the Metro Everett area but will span the city.
The commissioners signed off on the plan at their June 19 meeting, but not without a final round of revisions, some of them significant and unexpected.
Between the June 5 and 19 meetings, officials had received several letters of concern. About two dozen residents and business representatives attended the meeting to make final pleas before the commission sent their final recommendations to council.
Heeding homeowners in the historic Norton Grand area, their historic overlay was removed from the Metro Everett zone. That limits the uses and densities allowed in the area and addresses a concern that developers might demolish historic buildings according to planning director Allan Giffen.
Housing Hope CEO Fred Safstrom was one attendee who got more than he asked for at the meeting. Safstrom was requesting that the agency’s administrative offices not be subject to a proposed ban against ground floor clinics or social service facilities.
In another change, the commission voted to allow medical clinics and social service facilities on the ground floor of buildings in the Urban Mixed zone. The change was made despite a May 30 memo that said, in discussion with the Mayor’s office, the city’s planning manager recommended banning both.
While there were some departures from the prior draft, many core elements of the plan remain.
Fundamental provisions would increase building heights in some areas, with one goal being to add 1,000 units of market rate housing.
In some zones, developers could add extra stories to a property if the buildings offered a public benefit. “Public benefits include affordable housing, preservation of historic buildings, public art, public parking, green building and purchase of agricultural development rights,” Giffen said in an email.
A transportation component of the plan would decrease off-street parking in favor of some additional bike parking, public transit options and pedestrian routes.
Developers could trade five bicycle spots for one car spot on up to 5 parking spots or 5 percent of required parking spots, whichever is more. Builders could also cut four parking spots if they provided shower and storage facilities for cyclists.
The plan has a ways to go before approval. Giffen anticipates briefing the City Council on the proposed ordinances in July if their schedule permits. The council will hold a public hearing before taking action on the far ranging blueprint for the future of Metro Everett.
The zone encompasses a one mile area of the city from I-5 in the west to Marine View Drive in the east, and south from 36th Street to 24th Street.
More information on the Metro Everett Plan is available at www.everettwa.gov/metro

  

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