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Residential development of 113 homes proposed along Terrace Avenue

SNOHOMISH — The site of the former Delta Rehabilitation Center on Terrace Avenue has been sold and a residential development of 113 single-family houses called Walsh Hills will be built in its place. 
The brain injury center also known as the Snohomish Chalet was owned by the Walsh family for three generations. It opened in 1975 as a skilled nursing center to care for individuals with brain injuries and closed earlier this year. 
The Walsh Hills project webpage on the city’s website states the proposal includes new internal roadways, frontage improvements to Terrace Avenue, street trees, utility improvements, a park for residents, and critical areas enhancement.
If approved, D.R. Horton hopes to start site development construction in March 2021, according to city planning director Glen Pickus.
“That, of course, is dependent on when and if they get approval from the Hearing Examiner and City,” said Pickus via email.
Pickus added that demolition does not require a hearing examiner’s approval, but does not expect that until site development work begins.
Public comments regarding the Walsh Hills site ended Sept. 1. The comments will be taken to the developer by the city to discuss community feedback.
The completion of the Walsh Hills development is projected for the end of 2026.
With 113 homes being built, concerns were raised regarding traffic and safety of roads in the Walsh Hills area. 
According to Pickus, a traffic analysis was performed for surrounding streets and intersections and the impact will be “negligible.”
“I think the biggest impact was less than five seconds and none of the existing intersections would drop below the level of service standard that the city requires,” said Pickus.
Pickus says the traffic in the area will not be a future problem but “you can’t deny there’s no sidewalks, so the pedestrian safety might be the biggest issue (...) these deficiencies in the lack of sidewalks and geometry of the intersections has been in existence for years and years and years. And the city does not have the authority to require the developer to fix those,” said the developer to fix those,” said Pickus.
According to Pickus, the city can only require safety upgrades for the on-site property. 
“We’re requiring them to widen the pavement and put in curb gutters and a sidewalk along Terrace,” said Pickus.
Because this parcel of land has two different zoning designations, homebuilder D.R. Horton has put in applications to the city for a 19-lot planned residential area (PRD) and a 94-lot unit lot subdivision (ULS). Three usable open space tracts are proposed, and two critical areas tracts.
Although a ULS subdivision is typically used for multi-family dwellings like townhomes, Walsh Hills will be all single-family homes. 
On the west side of the site, along Terrace Avenue, is the PRD subdivision of 19 larger lots.
Under a PRD subdivision, the minimum square footage for a lot is 4,000 square feet rather than 7,400 square feet for a standard minimum lot size. 
PRD subdivisions are used when a site contains a critical area that would compromise the amount of buildable land, like the wetland at the Walsh Hills site. Rather than penalize the developer for protecting the land, a PRD allows builders to make lot sizes smaller. 
Despite a smaller lot, the density of the development will be standard including the wetland, according to Pickus.
“When you look at the total project as a whole, its final density ends up being just under six dwelling units per acre, which is what’s allowed in single-family residential,” Pickus said.
The rear part of the site is zoned for medium density residential.
Under a ULS subdivision, there is no minimum lot size because of the fact a ULS is more often used for multi-family dwellings. 
Walsh Hills is planning to use the ULS to develop single-family homes on smaller lots, 18 units per acre. 
According to Pickus, detached single-family homes are perfectly acceptable under and ULS application. Normally for townhouses, property lines run through the middle, splitting the unit. 
“That’s why the lots are smaller in the back because there is no minimum lot size. The applicant decided to build these houses and essentially made the lots as small as they could to accommodate the house and make it marketable,” said Pickus.

More information can be made at the Walsh Hills webpage: www.snohomishwa.gov/709/Walsh-Hills-Project

  

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