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Interim zoning limits established to protect Midtown

SNOHOMISH — The City Council last month approved interim zoning regulations to limit certain business types in the city’s commercial zones.
The ordinance is designed as a stopgap to restrict what can or cannot be built in commercial zones before the city next year formally adopts a new but similar slate of development regulations for the city’s upcoming Midtown District, a district that lies largely along Avenue D. The pre-emptive purpose is to prevent an undesirable use from going in at the county’s 9-acre former public works yard at 10th and Avenue D when this land goes up for sale.
City planner Glen Pickus delivered a list of potentially undesirable uses for commercially zoned properties, including: RV Parks, churches, warehouses, trucking services, farm product hubs, cargo services, equipment rental shops, cemeteries, and self-storage places.
“The poster child are the self-storage warehouses,” said Pickus. “The problem being they don’t generate any sales tax for the city, they don’t create any jobs, and they’re detrimental to the pedestrian experience, which is what we’re trying to promote along Avenue D.”
According to the Planning and Development Services, use of the commercial property is considered undesirable if they “do not generate adequate tax revenue; do not provide for living wage jobs; do not provide for housing options; detract from the pedestrian experience; do not provide any public amenities; require large impervious areas (e.g. large areas of asphalt); or do not provide services to the community.”
This is in line with the city’s plan for the aforementioned Midtown District. On their website, the city describes their vision for Avenue D as being able to “create jobs and increase residents’ shopping, work, activity, and housing options, including increasing the amount of affordable housing in the city.” The city also notes the area appears to be ready for redevelopment.
“Some of the uses that we allow are from the 1960s maybe, so it’s out of date,” said Pickus. “It talks about industrial laundering, and that’s a perfectly fine industrial use, but you don’t want that in your commercial zone. It’s really bringing things up to date.”
The ordinance passed last week will give Pickus and his staff more time to develop permanent regulations. In January, those permanent changes will be subject to a Planning Commission public hearing. They will then be reviewed again in the spring at the City Council before it makes a final vote.




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