North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Arlington plans for expected growth

 

August 2, 2017 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

Local Jeff Rackowitz, left, asks Arlington's Director of Community and Economic Development Marc Hayes, right, a question about incoming growth during a community meeting on July 26.

The city of Arlington must plan for incoming population growth and city planners hope to encourage mixed use development in growing areas.

City planners met with residents on July 25 and 26, in addition to meetings from earlier in the year, to talk about upcoming plans.

Projections show that Arlington could grow 7,000 people over the next 20 years, according to Marc Hayes, director of community and economic development at the city of Arlington.

"That's a minimum number. It's the least amount we're expecting," he said.

Forty years from now they are planning for a population around 33,000.

The city gets those projections from the county, which are handed down from the state.

"It's not necessarily a choice we want or don't want. It's what is happening," said Amy Rusko, associate planner with the city of Arlington.

Because of the state's Growth Management Act city officials are required to plan out for this potential population growth.

"If you don't plan for efficient land use within the urban centers, which Arlington is and Marysville is, then people sprawl out into T2 zones or T1 zones (unincorporated county areas without a lot of infrastructure)," said Hayes. "We want to have the density in the city where it belongs."

Snohomish County is one of the fastest growing counties in the country.

"You have 1,000 people a week coming into Seattle and it's displacing people who are already living there because of real estate prices and it's forcing people to move to the outer areas," said Hayes. "You'll see that continue as the region stays strong,."

If the planned Marysville-Arlington industrial center attracts jobs, those jobs will also likely draw people to the region.

"With the incoming growth it's important that we plan for it now, to build a community that's livable and sustainable for now and in the future," said Hayes.

The city is looking at mixed use development, or property that has both residential and commercial uses, to meet their growth.

"We don't have enough land mass in the city of Arlington to continue building single family residences to meet the growth expectations for the next 20 years," said Hayes.

Vertical mixed use, which contains retail and commercial on the bottom floor, with apartments above, is seen mostly in old towns or high-density urban areas, he said.

The city however is looking at horizontal mixed use, with commercial stores up front and residences in the back.

Hayes said the city is looking for "complete streets" moving forward as well.

"Looking at all uses of the street. Looking at bicyclists, looking at pedestrians, looking at where your truck routes are and how you accommodate that," he said.

Hayes said that people often come to Smokey Point by driving, get what they need, and drive away.

The city may want to encourage a more walkable and sociable community, he said.

"We want to be able to do things like create farmers markets, create events down here and begin to socialize this community," said Hayes.

Arlington city planners hope to hold more meetings in the future with the public to help them stay informed.

"We'll probably have more in September and October," said Rusko.

They hope to connect with the community more.

"We need to be out doing more public participation and getting our projects out there," said Hayes.

"There are a lot of issues coming up that people need to be aware of and we need that public input," he said.

Often, Hayes said, people don't voice their opinion until "something is happening right next door to them," like a recent rezoning decision near an Arlington neighborhood.

"If they would have known certain things were going to be happening when they got the notice in the mail, they would have known what it was. They still probably would have had issues with it, but it wouldn't have gotten to the heightened event that it did," said Rusko.

In addition to managing population growth, the city is preparing it's next Comprehensive Plan soon.

"We hope the community will say 'we want this' or 'we want this,' and we might not be able to get there but at least it's their plan, the community's plan," said Rusko.

"They can feel ownership over the community instead of the government dictating things," she said.

"We look at things in one perspective, but we really need that other perspective because people are going to live with the decisions being made," said Hayes.

Public meetings are usually posted on Arlington's website calendar at arlingtonwa.gov.

 

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