Bothell mayor disagrees with zoning changes

Bothell Mayor Mark Lamb has come out squarely against zoning changes that could allow buildings as high as 180 feet just north of the current Bothell municipal border.

The Snohomish County Council adopted the zoning rules May 12.

A legislative analyst for the county, Will Hall said the recent legislation created seven so-called urban centers in pockets of unincorporated Snohomish County, including the intersection of Bothell-Everett Highway and Maltby Road.

The urban centers designation automatically allows for buildings up to 90 feet, with higher limits possible if a developer can prove a need for more dense development.

For his part, Lamb believes those rules are just a bad idea.

“I don’t think this is a reflection of what any city in Snohomish County wants,” Lamb said. “It’s certainly not what Bothell wants.”

Bothell officials are toward the beginning of what is planned to be a yearlong look at annexing its urban growth areas, which include the spot just rezoned by Snohomish County. Lamb said the fact the county ultimately won’t be responsible for that area might be what bothers him the most about the zoning changes.

But Lamb also argued the zoning just doesn’t blend with surrounding zoning. He said potentially affected municipalities were not consulted regarding the plans.

According to Hall and other county staffers, the first and possibly only center likely to see development any time soon is the Point Wells area north of Shoreline. Lamb also said he doesn’t know of any imminent development along Bothell-Everett Highway. But he added that doesn’t mean the new zoning is a good idea.

According to Lamb, Bothell officials could pass an ordinance allowing a rendering plant in the heart of the city. Such a development never would happen, but he contends putting the zoning on the books still would not be a wise move.

Snohomish County Council Chairman Dave Gossett was out of town and unavailable for comment. Hall said the primary point of the Urban Centers zoning is to promote creation of well-planned, almost self-contained mixed commercial and housing developments that are pedestrian-friendly.

According to one county source, projects also are supposed to be transit-friendly. One demonstration project already has been built. Newberry Square on Southwest 164th Street and Interstate 5 was designed to be the first urban center. According to its Web site, the development consists of business, retail and residential space.

Snohomish County staffers further said the plans have gone through numerous public hearings. Most comments came from the Point Wells area.

Besides the Bothell-Everett Highway and Point Wells locations, there are now five other designated urban centers: Highway 99 near Mukilteo Speedway; I-5 at 164th Street; I-5 128th Street Southwest; Highway 99 at 152nd Street; and, 44th Avenue West near the Lynnwood border.

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