Metro Everett plan would allow a taller downtown
recovery clinics allowed with restrictions
The zoning for the Metro Everett plan. This map’s layers include street designations and zoning types. Streets depicted as red or purple, for example, would allow new clinics and social services be established, as long as they did not open on the street-level first floor. A larger version of the map is on the city’s Metro Everett webpage.
EVERETT — A thick book of changes to development regulations that the City Council approved last week is meant to position the city’s center better for growth in the long-term future, including when light rail is scheduled to arrive in 2036.
The Metro Everett plan changes the rules on off-street parking, building heights and simplifies code regulations. Some goals are to increase density and enhance walkability. Buildings of up to 150 feet tall — 25 stories — would be allowed along much of Hewitt, an increase from a 120-foot maximum.
The council voted to allow new medical and social service offices, including for substance abuse treatment, in parts of downtown with certain limitations, and held the line on height limits in the historic Norton-Grand Neighborhood west of downtown.
The Metro plan map covers one square mile overall.
The City Council approved the wide-sweeping plan with few disagreements at its Aug. 29 meeting. The Metro Everett plan had been massaged and tweaked for two years before reaching last week’s council vote.
Their last real conversation was how to place future medical clinics and social service centers. Medical clinics by federal definition include substance abuse clinics.
A solution described as a compromise to an all-out ban passed 4-2.
It would allow clinics and social services in many areas of the downtown core, such as along Broadway, but requires them to open in the upper floors of a building. The thought is to keep them off of the streetside ground floor used for shop storefronts. This idea got nicknamed the “Tuohy Amendment” as Councilwoman Judy Tuohy had proposed it.
An additional clause prevents clinics in other parts of downtown from continuing business when changing hands if they are not zoned to be there. It means, for example, if a doctor’s office closes, the clause “blocks it out” from becoming a new medical office. The clause is more stringent than traditional nonconforming rules used in planning that lets places change ownership despite being a mismatch to the current zoning laws.
A straight ban on all clinics in the downtown metro area was the alternate option supported by Councilmen Jeff Moore and Scott Murphy in the 4-2 vote. Murphy, for example, was concerned the compromise keeps the door open to more social services establishing downtown.
Approximately 40 percent of the city’s social service offices are in downtown, Mayor Cassie Franklin said.
The focus on clinics is because federal law doesn’t allow distinguishing a methadone clinic from, say, a family doctor. The city’s prior zoning code excluded substance abuse clinics by name, violating federal law.
Meanwhile, opiate addiction treatment company Ideal Option has withdrawn from leasing space at 2808 Hoyt Ave. and instead found a site on the outskirts of downtown, a company representative announced at the meeting. This news cooled down some residents ready to comment against the company.
The development rulebook newly classifies most downtown streets into one of four categories and places policies on what types of stores, offices or housing can be built along them.
The lengths of Pacific Avenue and Broadway, for example, both are designated Transit-Oriented Development streets. Most of the streets in the urban core west of Broadway, such as Hoyt Avenue, are classified as pedestrian streets within the Metro Plan’s terms.
Microhousing, also known as apodments, would be allowed on transit streets.
Leaders in the Norton-Grand neighborhood grew apprehensive on regulations around their neighborhood. They don’t want the possibility that tall buildings could abut and stand over their historic craftsman homes.
The council rejected neighbors’ requests to lowering the heights further than the current limits. Council members said doing so would be downzoning the area.
The Metro Everett plan’s map area stretches from Marine View Drive east to Interstate 5 and goes north to 24th and as far south as 36th Street. Its footprint folds in the Everett Station area, downtown business core, and many blocks surrounding the city’s epicenter. It replaces the individual zoning regulations for each area with one large area planning rulebook.
The plan can be reviewed at www.everettwa.gov/metro
Tuohy did not attend the meeting.
Check out our online Publications!
Best seen in the Firefox or Chrome Browsers.