By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published March 8, 2023
Proposal would allow certain development in
S. Snohomish UGA and other flood hazard areas
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — An exception that grants a controlled ability to redevelop properties in flood-fringe areas will be advancing to the County Council.
In essence, it grandfathers buildings from 1983 and earlier to give a one-time "use it or lose it" development credit. 1983 was when flood insurance maps were developed.
Hundreds of properties in large areas south of Snohomish city limits and south of the Stillaguamish River in the flood fringe would become eligible, county planner David Killingstad said at last week's county planning commission meeting.
The credit does not allow laying fill dirt, planner Hilary McGowan said. The rules limit raising an area no more than one foot.
It would, though, allow redevelopment at some sites. Hrere's how: If those flood maps from yesterday said a property could expand to a certain size, today's flood fringe restrictions on development would be eased as long as your new building stays within the size limits. Building larger than the 1983 building size footprints is disallowed.
Almost all of the land south of the Snohomish River was placed under a density fringe zone by the county in 2005. It's been described as limiting almost all growth there.
Josh Estes, a representative for the former Seattle-Snohomish Mill property, voiced support for the change. It's imperfect but gives flexibility that could incentivize development, Estes said at last week's public meeting.
Harvey Airfield's representatives generally support the measure as well.
County planners believe the allowance wouldn't cause an impact on flooding, McGowan said last week, because the flood maps of 1983 already accounted for additional development that hadn't happened yet at a site.
Last week, the county planning commission voted 8-0 to endorse the floodmap exception as it moves forward to the County Council. Commissioners had discussed breaking up the "use it or lose it" credit to allow a landowner to use it in portions instead of one-time, but a vote on that didn't pass. The volunteer commission's rules say any alteration to what planning staff puts forward must have at least six "yes" votes to pass, and the edit got five.
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