It’s no secret that growth is happening in and around Marysville, and has been for many years now. As we grapple with it, what are our city’s priorities?
First, some background: Under the state’s Growth Management Act, Snohomish County and all of its cities and towns including Marysville are required to fully plan for expected growth in population. The state develops population projections, which the counties use to establish Urban Growth Areas that show where population growth should be directed, predominantly in and around cities. In preparation for that expected growth, city comprehensive plans must include plans for land use, housing, capital facilities, utilities, transportation, economic development, and parks and recreation.
The city’s ongoing work to plan for population growth is one of our most important duties. To help inform that work, early last year I established a Growth Management Task Force to hear different perspectives from local residents and business people. The task force included, among others, five Marysville residents at large with a variety of backgrounds, experience and expertise, three City Council members, and one Planning Commissioner.
The group met monthly in 2020 to discuss a variety of planning topics:
At the outset, I asked participants, “What impact is growth and development in Marysville having on 1) you and/or your family? 2) your neighborhood? 3) the community at large?” and “How do you compare growth and development occurring in Marysville with other Snohomish County cities?”
Then COVID hit. Because a task force on economic recovery would look much the same, I asked this group to weigh in on both growth management and economic recovery. Those dual tracks continued for the rest of the year, adding this topic to the list:
- Coronavirus impacts on local businesses and economy
A public survey for our Downtown Master Plan in mid-year found the highest priority for the downtown area to be economic development, followed by business diversity, transit and expanded housing choices.
The task force’s discussions generally reflected similar priorities for the whole city. As our community grows over the next 15 years, they offered these highest priorities and focus areas for the city:
- Enhance community image, beautification and recreational opportunities.
- Increase business and employment opportunities, business enhancement and retention.
- Improve transportation infrastructure to include more multi-modal options such as sidewalks and provisions for travel with or without a car.
- Broader range of housing choices, including “missing middle” – townhomes, duplexes, mixed use options in addition to single family housing and multi-unit apartments.
Task force discussions were lively and informative. I especially appreciated the opportunity to hear other perspectives and learn from one another in service to our Marysville community.
One participant recommended that we “plan based on a preferred future, not reacting to the circumstances that we have now. COVID allows an opportunity to hit the reset button and reevaluate. Community, sustainability, and connectedness will be important.”
The perspectives and recommendations of this task force will help inform my work with the City Council on growth-related policy options and proposals.
Thank you to Marysville residents Peter Condyles, Dan Hazen, Kristin Kinnamon, Rickelle Pegrum and Rob Robertson, along with Steve Leifer of the Planning Commission and Dylan Sluder representing Master Builders, for your thoughtful discussions throughout the year. I also appreciate the participation of City Councilmembers Mark James, Steve Muller and Michael Stevens, and of city Community Development staff.
Jon Nehring has been Mayor of Marysville since 2010. You can reach him at 360-363-8000 or email@example.com.