Edmonds City Council to hold public hearing on Critical Area regulations, discuss Highway 99 planning


The Edmonds City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday night on the city’s Critical Area Regulations.

The State Growth Management Act requires jurisdictions to review, evaluate and, if necessary, revise their critical areas ordinances according to an update schedule. The City of Edmonds update is due in 2015.  This is the first update of the City’s critical area regulations since 2005.

Critical areas include wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat (including streams), geologically hazardous areas (landslide hazards, erosion hazards, and liquefaction hazards), and frequently flooded areas. These areas are located throughout the city so the regulations apply to a large number of properties. Critical area regulations include requirements about buffers on streams and wetlands as well as special report requirements for development within potential landslide hazard areas. Critical area regulations may restrict where development on a site is allowed. Generally speaking, no development activity may occur within a critical area or critical area buffer without a critical areas report being prepared and impacts of the development mitigated.

Detailed information on the city’s critical area regulation update is available on the City of Edmonds website at this link. This website contains links to Best Available Science reports, the draft critical area regulations, and minutes and videos of the Planning Board’s and City Council review during this update cycle. Below are some key proposed changes with this critical areas regulations update.

The wetland regulations are being updated to be consistent with the Department of Ecology’s Guidance for Small Cities. Wetland buffer widths will change (some larger, some small depending on habitat score) and new mitigation ratios are established.

The critical area regulations update includes a proposed change to the City’s building code and definitions for development within the Coastal Flood Hazard Zone (a large part of the Edmonds Waterfront area). The regulations would require development with the Coastal Flood Hazard Zones to be constructed two feet above base flood elevation (the 100-year flood elevation) and amend the definition of height to have the allowed zoning height measured from the point two feet above base flood elevations.

There are also new changes proposed to allow for new development within a “previously developed footprint” of critical area buffer and development within a “physically separated and functionally isolated” buffer (for example, a site on the opposite side of a road from a stream).

Written comments may be submitted to Kernen Lien, Senior Planner, by email or mailed to him a 121-5th Ave. N.
Oral comments may be given during the public hearing before the City Council on Tuesday.

The council will also during its Tuesday night meeting discuss development of a “subarea plan” that provides “a clear, long-term vision for the Highway 99 corridor area of Edmonds and helps guide future public decisions.” According to the council agenda, these could include “multimodal improvements to Highway 99—and private decisions for enhancing local properties and businesses.”

The agenda notes that while improvements to Edmonds’ portion of Highway 99 are part of the State of Washington’s 10-year transportation budget, the timing and actual projects are uncertain.” A strong subarea plan will make the city more eligible to obtain additional grant funding for capital improvements,” the agenda says.

The council will also:

    • Hear a proclamation in honor of Arts & Humanities month.
    • Receive the city’s August 2015 Monthly Financial Report.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. with an executive session, closed to the public, to discuss collective bargaining. The regular meeting begins at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N. You can see the complete agenda here.

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