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Planning Commission plans for growth


August 16, 2017 | View PDF

Although the Arlington City Council is off on vacation this month, the volunteer Planning Commission is hard at work with a public hearing this Tuesday, Aug. 15, on amendments to the city’s comprehensive plans for water, wastewater and transportation.

At the Aug. 1 Planning Commission workshop, Public Works Director Jim Kelly summarized changes in the three proposed plans and why the changes were needed.

The updates to each plan are largely the result of changes to the city’s proposed Urban Growth Area. In its last comp plan, the city proposed targeting population growth west of I-5, north of 180th Street NE to the edge of the bluff of the Stillaguamish River Valley near Silvana.

After the city filed a petition to Snohomish County in 2014 for the westward expansion of its Urban Growth Area, the county’s Planning and Development Services found that the plan was not consistent with the it’s own 2015 GMA Comprehensive Plan. Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) also agreed the plan did not fit with the regional vision, and so, in 2016, Arlington withdrew its petition to grow west of the freeway and began revisions to its Comprehensive Plan on where to locate population growth in a manner that was consistent with Snohomish County’s plan.

Now the city is making alternate plans providing for growth through 2035.

Much of the proposed growth has been reallocated throughout the city through its mixed-use zoning overlay, where high-density residences would be combined with retail and other uses, as proposed by the city’s Community Development Department.

The West Arlington Sub Area Plan (WASA) includes Smokey Point, West Bluff and Island Crossing, areas annexed into the city in 2005. The area lies within the city’s Airport Protection District and about 65 percent of the roads do not meet urban standards, according to the transportation plan. Neighborhoods are fragmented by a network of meandering streets dominated by cul-de- sacs. A plan for that area was adopted in 2011, but did not include an implementation strategy. Now, the city is replacing the WASA Plan with mixed-use development regulations, guided by a form-based code that would guide future development there.

In 2005, Arlington’s Urban Growth Area (UGA) was expanded by about 337 acres to include the Brekhus-Beach area in the southeast corner of the city. It was annexed into the city of Arlington in 2006 and the city worked with Snohomish County’s Public Works Department on an arterial circulation study that was completed in 2009. The study confirmed that arterial connections and circulation within the Brekhus-Beach vicinity, between Tveit Road and 172nd Street, are limited by the physical environment and availability of right-of-way.

This neighborhood was represented well at the Aug. 1 Planning Commission workshop, with residents seeking more information, including Commissioner Vernon Beach who recused himself from the board in order to participate as a resident. The residents asked about water and sewer connection points in Brekhus-Beach area and they asked about the city’s plans to install infrastructure in the annexed area. It was noted that the city’s Capital Facilities Plan does not include updated numbers for the Brekhus-Beach area and residents wondered if the city is compliant with the state’s Growth Management Act regulations.

The arterial circulation study offered a list of potential transportation improvements needed to accommodate development in the area:

• An extension of 186th Street from McElroy Road to the city limit and to Crown Ridge Boulevard and SR 9;

• Improvements of 172nd Street NE to 91st Street NE and connection to McElroy Road (99th Street NE);

• Connection of 95th Avenue NE to 186th Avenue NE and Burn and McElroy roads;

Arlington’s 2017 update to its Transportation 2035 Plan includes more than 50 specific roadway and intersection projects that improve capacity, circulation and safety and it also provides for non-motorized movement by expanding its network of sidewalks, trails, bike lanes and ADA-approved transitions. It also includes a financial plan that details how these transportation projects will be funded and strategies to preserve these infrastructure improvements into the future.


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