Two items of interest on the Edmonds City Council agenda Tuesday night: possible action on a property tax levy and consideration of a Planning Board recommendation that would amend downtown business zones.
The City Council has been talking for some time about placing a levy before citizens, and the deadline is Aug. 16 to submit a measure for the November general election. Councilmembers held a workshop to discuss levy options June 28 but no recommendations were made.
As for the downtown business zone proposal, My Edmonds News was unable to access the council agenda portion of the City website Sunday, so we asked Planning Board member Todd Cloutier for a summary of the board’s recommendation to the council.
According to Cloutier, the city’s current commercial depth requirements were inconsistent throughout the city, with some zones requiring only 30 feet, and some requiring up to 60 feet. “We thought that 45 better fit the buildings of Edmonds, providing commercial depth sufficient for many uses (30 feet doesn’t support a back office), while 60 feet doesn’t fit in many Edmonds buildings, given the alley parking and such,” he said.
The idea of designated downtown business zone streetfronts “was to clarify where commercial activity is required to be placed, in buildings in the BD zone,” Cloutier said. ” That is, for buildings along those streets, the streetfront, ground floor use of the building must be commercial. The intent is to ensure we have the ‘critical mass’ of retail and restaurants that we think we’ll need to keep the downtown thriving.”
Development agreements were included to permit some flexibility to property developers, providing them a way to ask for permission to not meet one or more of the development code rules. “But, the hitch of a Development Agreement is that the entire process is public, with public hearings before both the Planning Board and City Council, to ensure public concerns are addressed,” he said. “Reduction of mandatory step-backs was undertaken in response to practical issues with requiring uniform step-backs on all buildings of a certain height. The resulting appearance would not match what we thought would be a beautiful downtown.”
In a nutshell, the Planning Board’s recommendations were made “to stimulate appropriate development in Edmonds, especially downtown, by making our code language more clear, removing restrictions that made no sense, and adding a public review process for the new tool, Development Agreements, which are seen as a more public and open process for developers asking for relaxations of current code,” Cloutier said. The recommendations were discussed with the Economic Development Commission during the writing of the language for the new code, to ensure that efforts were aligned, he added.
The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Council Chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N.