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Arlington City Council considers changes to self-storage


Arlington City Council was scheduled to vote July 18 on several amendments to its land use code, including on storage facilities.

The city’s Permissible Use Table currently allows self-storage facilities in general and light industrial zones. The code does not address modern versions of storage facilities that could be beneficial as part of the mixed use concept, said Chris Young, director of community and economic development at last week’s workshop meeting.

He said that a new model provides a useful service in high-density residential developments, where businesses and residents could use storage nearer to their accommodations.

On July 7, the Arlington Planning Commission held a public hearing on the idea.

Young explained that changes in urban households have led to a different model from the earlier style of the mini-warehouse.

Modern self-storage facilities include multi-story buildings with a single store-front entry and an exterior appearance that more resembles a professional office building, he said last week.

These facilities can be compatible in mixed-use areas that provide both commercial and high-density residential areas.

“It would eliminate the need to travel to storage facilities, thus reducing traffic and the carbon footprint,” Young said in council documents.

Councilwoman Debora Knight expressed concerns about distracting business from established storage units.

Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) noted recently that Arlington’s Comprehensive Plan lacked policies on this new model of storage.

Young said the model would most likely be used in larger, mixed use developments of 15 acres, much like one in the works at 172nd Street NE and 67th Avenue NE.

Also, Arlington City Council was expected approve amendments to an ordinance governing wireless facilities, such as cell towers, as a result of the Spectrum Act adopted by Congress.

The act limits state and local government’s authority to regulate modification of existing wireless antenna support structures and base stations, mandating that local governments cannot deny any applications for modification of an existing structure, if such modification does not substantially change the physical dimensions .

Policies on building in floodplains are also being revised.

As a result of lawsuits to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA developed a program for local jurisdictions to satisfy a “Reasonable & Prudent Alternative” to its floodplain management criteria.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) approved the approach and the city is proposing adopting existing plans and regulations, an approach that would provide the necessary protection.

The proposed ordinance, expected for approval this Monday, is a total rewrite of Arlington’s Floodplain Development Regulations that have been reviewed by FEMA. The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the new ordinance on July 7.

Also, on its critical areas ordinance, the city is repealing one of two ordinances and amending the second one to cover all situations.

One of the two ordinances pertained to critical areas as part of the Shoreline Master Program in frequently flooded areas and a second ordinance pertained to all other areas of the city. This caused confusion with developers as they were unsure which to follow, according to council documents.

Other council business

• The city of Arlington has negotiated an agreement with Fire District 21 for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and mutual aid within the District 21 service area. The proposed agreement states that District 21 pay the balance in full for services provided in 2015 by the city. The agreement says that District 21 will assume primary responsibility for the Basic Life Support (BLS) service in its district and Arlington Fire Department will continue to provide Advanced Life Support (ALS) service at a lower rate through 2017. This agreement will end Dec. 31, 2017.

• Council was also scheduled to appoint Thad Hovis to the Civil Service Commission position vacated by Jim Rankin in April. If approved this Monday, Hovis’ term will expire on April 1, 2022.

• In its consent agenda this week, council was scheduled to accept a grant of $5,000 from the Snohomish County Small Capital Partnership Project, to add to $10,000 awarded previously for upgrades at Terrace Park.


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