With two members — Strom Peterson and Adrienne Fraley-Monillas — absent Tuesday night, the Edmonds City Council voted 3-1 with one abstention to change zoning requirements aimed at encouraging more mixed-use development on Highway 99.
The measure — which now has to come back before council in ordinance form — removed the requirement that all general commercial (GC) zoned properties must have two floors of commercial space. However, the council did not follow the city planning board’s recommendation that mixed-use development be allowed on Highway 99 with no specific commercial space requirement. Councilmember Kristiana Johnson introduced an amendment to remove that language, stating she believed that requiring some commercial space better reflected the council’s original direction to the planning board regarding zoning changes.
Johnson was joined by Councilmembers Lora Petso and Joan Bloom in supporting the modified development requirement. Council President Diane Buckshnis voted no, citing concerns that a commercial requirement would hamper the development of affordable housing along the Highway 99 corridor. Councilmember Tom Mesaros abstained.
A second amendment proposed by the Planning Board, aimed at setting a uniform standard for parking requirements for Highway 99 businesses, was defeated 3-2 (Councilmembers Bloom, Petso and Johnson voting no.)
In addition, the council:
– Held a public hearing on the Shoreline Master Program update, which drew comments from citizens and officials. Among them was Port of Edmonds Commission President Jim Orvis, who said that port — which owns the Harbor Square Business Complex bordering the Edmonds Marsh — is concerned about the shoreline plan’s proposal for expanding setbacks at the marsh to 150 feet.
“There is currently a 25-foot buffer at Harbor Square, which has worked well for over 30 years, demonstrating that structures and activities at Harbor Square are compatible with a functioning marsh,” Orvis said. Moving those setbacks to 150 feet would have serious adverse effects, and “will severely impact both port and Harbor tenants’ ability to upgrade existing buildings,” he added.
Both the state Department of Ecology and City of Edmonds staff have gone on record stating that the existing buffer is adequate and “there is no scientific basis to support the expanded setbacks,” Orvis said, calling it “an arbitrary taking of property rights.” If the 150-foot buffer is passed by the council, the port will lodge an appeal with the Department of Ecology and the Shoreline Hearings Board, Orvis added.
The council also heard from citizens supporting adequate buffers as well as two student members of the Save Our Salmon Club at Edmonds-Woodway High School.
The council will continue to discuss next steps on the Shoreline Master Plan at a future meeting, Buckshnis said.
– Passed by a vote of 3-2 after a public hearing, code amendments to the city’s definition of lot and a new definition for lot of record. The amendments stemmed from the legal status of existing property lots and what happens if a lot is developed (or redeveloped) if it hasn’t first been legally created through the subdivision process. Councilmembers Petso and Bloom voted against this measure.
– Unanimously approved awarding a $233,753 contract to Kamins Construction for the 15th Avenue Walkway project, which will run from Edmonds Way to 8th Avenue South. Nearly all of the $277,675 project (including contingency fee and construction management) is funded through a state Safe Routes To School grant.
– Heard a presentation from Pam Stuller, owner of Walnut Street Coffee and a member of the Edmonds Downtown Alliance (formerly referred to the Business Improvement District) board, about the Alliance’s branding efforts. The Alliance hired a Seattle-based marketing consultant, Turnstile Studio, to develop their branding and identity, and unveiled the results to the council Tuesday night. The name is ED! which not only stands for Edmonds Downtown Alliance but also allows for a variety of advertising, branding and marketing options — from playful to serious, Stuller said.
The Alliance is in the process of designing a website that will feature downtown businesses and services, with each business member receiving his or her own web page, she noted.
Creating a business improvement district provides a local funding mechanism whereby businesses assess themselves to fund programs designed to help fulfill goals related to activities such as marketing, promoting special events, security, beautification, parking, clean-up and administration. The Edmonds City Council approved creation of the Edmonds Business Improvement District in January 2013.