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Monroe council makes preliminary denial on Marshall Field rezone

Marshall Field, near the corner of N. Kelsey and Columbia streets.
Jana Alexander Hill file photo

Marshall Field, near the corner of N. Kelsey and Columbia streets.

MONROE — The City Council made a preliminary denial against the proposal to re-zone Marshall Field for multi-family residential use at the Nov. 10 council meeting. After two separate public hearings and much discussion, the council’s 5-2 vote was because of location. Final action on whether to approve or deny the Monroe School District’s proposal will take place at the Dec. 8 city council meeting.
Council members said there is an apparent need for more affordable housing but felt re-zoning Marshall Field was not the answer.
Marshall Field and Veterans Memorial stadium are located in midtown and are owned by the school district, which asked for the land to be re-zoned. The district says the field is not used for any school programs or activities and wants to see it turn into a multi-family residential development.
The majority of the council decided the location was wrong for multiple reasons. The main reason they gave was the future potential uses, such as open space, out-weigh the need for housing.
“You know, I look at this particular site and I think, ‘yes, we do have a housing shortage. But is that the right spot for it?’?,” Councilmember Jeff Rasmussen said. 
As a self-proclaimed “parks guy,” Rasmussen stated he is on the same page as many others thinking that the area would be great for open space or a park.
“Does it fit within the vision that we’ve had for that space down there? I think by accepting the rezone request, it doesn’t necessarily fit that vision,” Rasmussen said.
If multi-family housing is built, the increase in traffic and density of the area was also a major concern for the council. Although approved by the planning commission, Planning Commissioner Kyle Fisher mentioned during the hearing that other options for multi-family housing exist within the city. 
Councilmember Patsy Cudaback said she agrees with not lumping all the multi-family housing into one area and felt the city needs to have a “more balanced perspective as we look at growth in our city.” 
While the majority of the council felt the location was wrong, two council members, Kevin Hanford and Ed Davis, felt the need for more multi-family housing and across the street from a school was a good location. 
“I’m having a hard time seeing that we can tell the school board that we don’t like the idea of what you want to do with the land,” Hanford said. “We voted at the Puget Sound Regional Council to deny the county development because we wanted to develop infill within the city limits ourselves and we’ve been saying for years that there’s a lack of housing in Monroe.” 
Hanford added if there’s not a need for multi-family housing then it won’t be developed that way. But if there’s a market for it, it will be.
Davis said that as of right now the council was only asked to approve of a re-zone, no project has been submitted for approval and once that happens, more deliberation will follow.
“A lot of the things that are being brought up are issues for the school board. What they do with that property, that’s not our decision, that’s their decision,” Davis said. “But right now, all I’m seeing is they’re asking to do a zoning change, because they’re really locked into what the zoning is now. Later on we’ll see what is proposed and we’ll go from there.”



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