The Edmonds Planning Board will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, on a proposed plan and form-based code aimed at guiding future commercial and mixed-use development in the Westgate commercial area, located near the intersection of SR-104 (Edmonds Way) and 100th Avenue West.
The idea behind form-based code is to develop neighborhoods according to physical form rather than by defining separate uses, as conventional zoning calls for. As a result, form and mass of buildings are regulated in relationship to one another and to the streets and blocks they are on. You can view an illustrated example of how form-based codes compare to traditional zoning here.
This is the third public hearing by the Planning Board on this project, which was initiated by the Edmonds City Council at the request of the Edmonds Economic Development Commission. The city worked with a design team from the University of Washington that included students from the undergraduate Community, Environment, and Planning program and graduate students in urban planning, landscape architecture and architecture.
The first public meetings took place in January 2011, and those were followed in March 201l by a design workshop (or charrette) to engage the public, business and property owners, and the local design community in exploring more specific design options. Results were presented at another public meeting in April of that year. In addition to the public meetings and workshops, the project included presentations to city officials, research on form-based codes, production of final conceptual designs, and preparation of a report with recommendations for implementation.
The Planning Board’s review of the Westgate plan and form-based code began in 2012. Since then, there have been a number of meetings and public presentations, including an Edmonds City Council presentation on July 23, 2013 and two Planning Board public hearings on Sept. 12, 2012 and March 14, 2014. You can read more background here.
According to the meeting agenda:
With this long project history, and the substantial review that has followed, there have of course been changes from what the original UW team proposed. The most significant changes include several key items:
1. The overall plan provides for opportunities while not mandating that new development conform rigidly to certain minimum building heights or insisting that all buildings be pushed up against sidewalk lines. Nonetheless, open space and amenity space is still required, as well as pedestrian and non-motorized circulation within each of the four quadrants of the Westgate commercial area. The general emphasis of the plan has changed from buildings organized around the SR-104/100th Ave W intersection to a quadrant-based system which focuses on creating circulation, buildings and spaces within each of the four quadrants formed by the intersection.
2. Instead of allowing development of up to 5 stories, buildings are now capped in most places at 3 stories, with an opportunity to obtain 4 stories only where the nearby slopes are higher, or where no residences are nearby. In some locations with no adjacent slopes, heights are limited to two stories.
3. Street setbacks have been increased from the original 8 feet to 12 feet to provide a wider street interface and to assure that, if needed, turn pockets can be provided for traffic access.
4. The intersection of SR-104 and 100th Ave W has a significant step-back requirement radiating from the intersection, to assure that a sense of place is provided at this key intersection.
A transportation analysis, looking at potential traffic impacts if development occurred according to the plan, was completed in 2013. The study indicated that traffic level of service would not be degraded (see Attachment 3). Since this study was done when buildings were being allowed at up to five stories, the current plan capping heights at 2-to-4 stories reduces traffic impacts even further, since the overall level of development is substantially reduced by 18 to 20%.
You can view the complete agenda including attachments here.
The Planning Board will be making a recommendation to the City Council; the Council will have its own hearing before the process is concluded.