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Everett’s zoning rewrite moves a step forward

EVERETT — The city’s overhaul of its planning code, named “Rethink Zoning,” will proceed to the City Council with the planning commission voting 6-1 to send a recommendation of support.
One message commissioners want to communicate to council together with the recommendation is to ask to amend the rule book to ensure public notifications is given for small building changes at homes in historical overlay zones.
The Rethink Zoning plan doesn’t do so right now. The city’s planning director, David Stalheim, reiterated at last week’s commission meeting why the planning department disagrees: The notification process adds time and costs a project applicant $800 to send official notice to nearby neighbors.
The Rethink rewrite also reduces the public notice requirements for all but the largest multifamily residential buildings, as well as reducing public notice for some shoreline permits. Stalheim explained previously that these reductions are for high-density buildings that would go in designated high-density areas such as along Evergreen Way.
One item reversed in the latest edits relates to when buildings on the Everett Historic Register are proposed for demolition. The city’s Historical Commission will continue to weigh in with a recommendation to the City Council as the decision-making body, versus an earlier proposal in Rethink Zoning to give the city planning director final authority.
Commissioner Greg Tisdel gave the dissenting vote. Consolidating land use types takes multiple property types and “lumps them all in one zone,” Tisdel said for one of his concerns. He indicated doing so could have unintended consequences for projects, and impact Everett’s competitiveness in the commercial market.
Stalheim highlighted that some of the changes make things simpler for projects — for example, it removes square footage calculations as a determining factor, and instead has the codebook utilize lot coverage and building height standards for decision-making.
The code rewrite does not add density to single-family neighborhoods.
The city’s zoning code was last overhauled in 1989.



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