Walsh Hills Subdivision
An application has been submitted for a 111-lot residential development at 1705/1711 Terrace Avenue - the site of the former Delta Rehab medical facility. The site has split zoning, with Single Family Residential toward the street on the west side (6 units per acre) and Medium Density Residential (MDR) to the east (18 units per acre). The application consists of a 17-lot Planned Residential Subdivision (PRD) where the site is zoned Single Family, and a 94-lot Unit Lot Subdivision (ULS) where it is zoned MDR, for a total of 111 new lots on a 19.29-acre site. Although the application is technically for two different subdivisions, the project will function as one development, and will be processed concurrently.
The applicant responded to City comments in a resubmittal on December 3, 2020. The subdivision was revised to contain a total of 111 lots (down from the initial proposal of 113) and an open space tract was relocated to the Terrace Avenue frontage, in addition to other minor changes. The project narrative and site plans below have been updated to reflect the new proposal.
SEPA Threshold Determination Issued (Determination of Non-Significance)
A SEPA Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) was issued for Walsh Hills on October 16th and distributed to all parties of interest, agencies with jurisdiction, and neighbors within 300 feet of the proposal. A DNS is issued if it is determined that any significant adverse environmental impacts a project may create will be mitigated by requirements of Snohomish Municipal Code, in particular Title 14, the Land Use Development Code. Environmental determinations are made after considering comments received and reviewing environmental information and the SEPA checklist filled out by the applicant. This means the environmental review for this project is complete. This does not mean the project is approved, but it is a required step in the plan review process. The public hearing has not yet been scheduled.
The subdivision types: PRD & ULS
PRDs are a type of subdivision that allows for smaller lots than the standard. With a PRD, lots can be as small as 4,000 square feet. PRDs are only allowed where the presence of critical areas would reduce the lot yield. In exchange, the development is required to provide a higher standard of open space and the buildings are subject to administrative design review. In this case, there is a wetland in the northeast portion of the site that will be avoided and protected. PRDs are subject to the criteria of SMC 14.220 as well as typical subdivision laws.
ULS is another type of subdivision that can sometimes be seen in multi-family developments. In this case the proposal is for detached, single-family structures. With a ULS, the internal property lines are dictated by fire codes, rather than the land use code. ULS are subject to the criteria of SMC 14.215.125.
The development proposal
The proposal is for a 19-lot PRD and a 94-lot ULS, for a total of 113 lots overall. Three usable open space tracts are proposed, and two critical areas tracts. The proposal will include new internal roadways, frontage improvements to Terrace Avenue, street trees, utility improvements, a park for residents, and critical areas enhancement.
Above is a rendering of the proposed site with landscaping. See a larger version of this image by clicking "Landscape Plan" in the list below. PLEASE NOTE this landscape plan does not reflect the updated site layout. Please see the PRD Site and Preliminary Plans for changes to the site design.
The City has received a number of comments from the public following the Notice of Application. Below is a summary of the comments received, along with a brief response from staff.
Included in all of the staff responses is the fact the Growth Management Act and case law does not allow the City to require a developer to fix historical neighborhood deficiencies that existed prior to the application for development. This includes street deficiencies. The City may only require the developer to contribute a proportionate share toward new impacts the development creates and there must be a reasonable nexus between the required improvements and the impacts created.
Process / General
Project should be postponed to provide more time for public input; public awareness is impacted during Covid environment.
Under state law, the City cannot postpone or delay a land use decision. The City is doing what it can to get the word out about all land use projects during this time, including newspaper advertising, posting signs at the site, and using the City’s website and social media.
How will public meetings be held during Covid?
If allowed, the public hearing will be an in-person meeting. If Covid restrictions are still in place limiting the size of meetings, the public hearing will be offered remotely on-line and via telephone using the Zoom platform. This is how City Council and Planning Commission meetings are currently being held.
Lack of thorough environmental and civil impact planning, especially lack of planning for road improvements to help with added congestion
The applicant has submitted the required environmental studies and checklists. Existing wetlands and the stability of the steep slope will be protected.
The applicant has submitted conceptual civil plans which are being reviewed by City staff to ensure they are feasible. Detailed civil construction plans will be required at a later stage in the development process.
The Traffic Impact Analysis submitted by the applicant determined the proposed development will have an insignificant impact on traffic congestion. The responsibility for planning road improvements to correct existing deficiencies resides with the City, not developers.
Request more information: traffic estimates, school zoning, what city plans to do to protect us from this poorly devised proposal
Traffic projections can be found in the Traffic Impact Analysis provided by the applicant.
The proposed development will be required to meet all existing development regulations and design standards which are in place to protect the public.
Smaller houses will bring crime
Staff is unaware of any data that supports this assertion. Even if true, the City has no authority to require houses to be large than some arbitrary minimum size.
Can developer install a gate at the entrance to Northridge Drive?
This is beyond the City’s ability to require.
Don’t want Snohomish to turn into another Monroe/ Lynnwood
What is avenue for communication for neighbors with observations or complaints?
The best way to communicate a concern to the City is via our website at www.snohomishwa.gov. The specific page to report concerns is at at this link. Staff’s direct contact information is also available on the City website.
Hot air balloons launch from the Delta field
This is not an activity that the City has the authority to protect.
What will be impact on property values and taxes?
Staff does not have the expertise to answer this question. The Snohomish County Treasurer, a real estate appraiser, or a real estate agent may be able to answer the question. However, regardless of the answer, there is no provision in Snohomish Municipal Code that provides staff the authority to directly consider a project’s impact on property values.
No bus stop nearby, and closest grocery/pharmacy is over a mile away
Information RE asbestos and hazardous material abatement for existing old buildings on site
Prior to the demolition of structures currently on site, the applicant will have to obtain demolition permits (not yet applied for) which require submittal of a hazardous materials report. That report will be a public record. If there are hazardous materials found, the applicant must follow state regulations for the removal, abatement, and disposal of hazardous materials.
Traffic / Streets
Area roads cannot support the traffic this development will generate
Suggested improvements to streets:
Developers should be responsible for improvements to infrastructure and should carry cost burden of improving roads before development can begin
Frontage improvements are inadequate for such a large development
Traffic Impact Analysis is flawed
SMC 14.295.060 establishes the requirement for applicants to provide a traffic study if the proposed development is projected to generate three or more P.M. Peak Hour Trips. The study must include a traffic generation and distribution analysis and if requested by the City Engineer, information regarding the impacts on levels of service (e.g. increased delays at intersections) and inadequate street conditions. The study is also used by the City to determine traffic impact mitigation fees which are based on the number of new P.M. Peak Hour Trips the proposed development is projected to generate.
A Traffic Impact Analysis prepared by a professional engineer licensed in the State of Washington was submitted by the applicant. While the analysis is still being reviewed by the City Engineer it appears to fulfill all of the requirements of the SMC and to have been prepared in accordance with established methodology and standards for such reports. Staff has no reason to believe the analysis is flawed, uses bad data, or has incorrect projections.
The current edition of the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ (ITE) Trip Generation Manual was utilized to determine new motor vehicle trips to be generated by the proposed development with vehicle trips credit applied for existing use on-site. The Traffic Impact Analysis analyzed the surrounding intersections’ level-of-service (LOS), including Pine Ave/16th St, Pine Ave/13th St, Park Ave/13th St, & Pine Ave/Tenth St, under project buildout conditions. The motor vehicle turning movement data used to evaluate LOS were collected in December 2019 when school was in session and before the impact of Covid-19. Traffic data collected included pedestrians and bicycles observed at intersections.
The Highway Capacity Manual was used to evaluate motor vehicle delay at the identified intersections and all intersections were determined to continue to operate at LOS C or better. The minimum LOS standard adopted by the City is LOS D.
Historical collision data from January 2014 through 2019 were used to determine collision rates and collision frequencies on the surrounding roadway network. The collision rates and frequencies for the identified intersections were found to be lower than generally accepted industry thresholds which trigger mitigation.
Motor vehicle LOS is the principal metric for determining a development’s traffic impacts on the surrounding roadway network. The project will be required to pay traffic mitigation fees on 79 new PM peak-hour trips at a rate of $1,603 per PM peak-hour trip, which equals $126,637 to the City. These funds are used to pay for improvements identified in the City’s transportation deficiency plan.
The project will be required to dedicate 10-feet of right-of-way to the City and to construct frontage improvements (sidewalk, curb and gutter) along the full-length of their frontage on Terrace Ave. Sidewalks are required on internal roads. The City does not have the authority to require a developer to fix historical neighborhood street deficiencies that existed prior to the application for development. The City may only require the developer to contribute a proportionate share toward new impacts the development creates. There must also be a reasonable nexus between the required improvements and the impacts created.
Pothole repair is a process done outside of the development review process.
Lower speed limit on Pine Ave does not help speeding cars
Need speed limit signs
Speed limits – their effectiveness and what they should be – is not a land use issue so is not addressed in the subdivision process. Concerns about speed limits should be addressed to the City Engineer outside of this review process.
Second point of access on South Machias Road
The project proposes two points of access to Terrace Avenue. No other points of access are required.
There are significant physical challenges associated with a South Machias Road access to the site, including the steep terrain and environmentally sensitive areas identified in the Critical Areas Study that limit any construction in that portion of the site. The Slope Stability Analysis of the Geotechnical Report identifies a minimum buffer and building setback from the crest of the slope, including a prohibition on clearing on slope areas steeper than 40% or within their respective buffer areas.
City should evaluate the maximum potential cost of infrastructure improvements to mitigate the potential impacts of the development, including sidewalks, new road development, and existing road expansion. Developer then posts a bond for maximum potential and the City can draw from the bond
The City is not provided the authority to do this. The City may only require payment of traffic impact fees and construction of improvements in the immediate vicinity of new development.
The developer will be required to post performance bond(s) for work in the public right-of-way, which would include the cost for constructing frontage improvements along the site’s full-length on Terrace Ave and on internal streets which will be dedicated to the City after the platting process.
Consider adopting a Skinny Streets plan based on Street Design Guidelines for Healthy Neighborhoods by Dan Burden to reduce impervious surfaces, traffic speeds, pedestrian crossings, construction and maintenance costs, and allow more space for trees and plants
The City can consider this but cannot apply it retroactively to this project. The proposed project is vested to the development regulations in place at the time the applications were determined to be complete. This includes the requirements identified in the City’s Engineering Street Standards, which also include fire apparatus requirements.
The stormwater plan is required to meet the Department of Ecology’s Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington. These regulations require that the increase in runoff from the expansion of impervious surfaces be mitigated. The project proposes to achieve this by constructing two separate detention vaults. By collecting all on-site stormwater and detaining it in these vaults and then releasing it at a controlled rate, the post-developed site will generate less stormwater flow than the site currently does.
Safety / Sidewalks
Safety of intersections of Pine Ave/16th St and Terrace Ave/16th St, especially during peak traffic times
Suggested sidewalk improvements:
Pedestrian safety at bus stops
Developer should pay for sidewalks
There is no disputing that there are long-standing existing deficiencies of Terrace Avenue and the cited intersections. They obviously create a less than ideal situation where drivers must exert extra caution. However, the 5-year collision rates for the area are below accepted professional threshold standards to require a safety analysis. Any improvements to the existing street infrastructure must be planned as part of the City’s comprehensive approach to street maintenance, repair, and reconstruction where projects are prioritized on a citywide basis.
Under the Active Transportation System Improvements, the City’s Transportation Master Plan identifies future city capital improvement sidewalk projects on the west side of Terrace Ave, from south of Northridge Drive to nearly north of 16th St, along the west of Pine Ave, from north of 13th St to north of 16th St, and on the north side of 13th St from west of Pine Ave to Hillcrest Drive. It’s possible that if this development proposal gets constructed the need to improve Terrace Avenue and nearby intersections will become a higher priority for the City. However, the responsibility for improving the current situation is on the City and not on a developer.
Use impact fees paid by developer to improve safety on Pine, 16th, and Terrace
The traffic impact fees collected from proposed development will be used mitigate transportation deficiencies identified in the City’s Transportation Master Plan.
Suggest speed bumps to reduce speed
The need to install speed bumps and other traffic calming devices is determined by the City Engineer outside of the development review process.
Geotechnical / Slope Stability
Area is prone to landslides; a lot of weight proposed on top of the slope; hillslide needs further evaluation.
Geotechnical report is incorrect and simplifies the potential risk; 16-foot retaining wall on top of an 85% slope with wetlands below
Some comments state the slope on the eastern portion of the site is prone to landslides and building near the slope is not a good idea. The comments also asserted further evaluation is needed and/or the geotechnical report is incorrect and simplifies the potential risk. However, no information was offered in support of these assertions.
Chapter 14.275 Snohomish Municipal Code (SMC) designates geologically hazardous areas and establishes regulations that must be met in order to develop on or near such areas. SMC 14.275.040 requires submission of a critical areas reports addressing (among other things):
A geotechnical report prepared by a professional engineer licensed in the State of Washington was submitted by the applicant. While that report is still being reviewed by City staff it appears to fulfill all of the requirements of the SMC. Development will be required to follow all of the recommendations of the report. Staff has no reason to believe the report is incorrect or that further analysis is required.
Density / Dimensional Standards
How many actual residences are proposed? Is proposal for 113 lots with 94 of them being multi-family? How many could be duplexes or triplexes, or more (condos and apartments)?
A total of 113 single-family detached dwelling units are proposed. No duplexes, triplexes, apartments or other multi-family structures are proposed.
Too dense; too large of a development for the surrounding area and the environment; the lot isn’t big enough for 113 families
The proposed density is approximately 6 units per acre, which is the maximum density allowed in the Single Family zone throughout the city even though most of this site is zoned Medium Density Residential (which allows up to 18 dwelling units per acre).
Do not agree with the lot size to house size ratio
For the front (west) portion of the proposed project, the maximum allowed floor area ratio (FAR) is 0.5 (Chapter 14.220 SMC). This standard will be applied when building permits for each house are reviewed.
For the rear (east) portion of the project, the size of the houses will largely be determined by fire code separation requirements and underlying zoning regulations which include open area requirements larger than a specified minimum size.
Site should be rezoned to SFR and a lower density plan should be submitted.
The applications for this project were determined to be complete on June 16, 2020. At that time the application became vested to the development regulations, including the zoning, in place at that time. Rezoning the property now would not affect how the project can be developed under the current application.
To rezone any property, the current regulations require a Comprehensive Plan amendment and may only be initiated by the current property owner or the City. The earliest such a rezone request could take place would be 2022 since the Comprehensive Plan can only be amended once a year.
More info RE proposed homes (size, height, detached or attached)
The developer is proposing detached, single-family homes. Specific models have not been identified at this time, but the underlying zone allows a height of up to 35 feet.
More space between houses
In the rear portion of the site, the separation between structures is dictated by the fire code, which requires a minimum six-foot separation. In the front toward the street, the code requires a minimum five-foot setback from side property lines which results in adjacent houses being separated by a minimum of 10 feet.
Why are they proposing not to pay school impact fees? Impact to overcrowded schools
The developer will be required to pay School Impact Fees per Chapter 14.290 SMC which for 113 single-family detached dwelling units would be $682,407.
School children’s safety – what are School District comments?
The School District has provided comment that existing facilities are adequate to serve the development. The School District notes that a school bus stop should be located at the intersection of Terrace Avenue and Road B.
Impact of sewer system
Sewer will be at or near capacity after this development
The anticipated wastewater load from the proposed development has been modeled by the City’s consultant. The wastewater model determined the City’s wastewater infrastructure has adequate capacity to service the proposed development.
Power lines should be underground
This is already a requirement of the City’s Engineering Standards and Snohomish Municipal Code. Those codes require undergrounding of all new utilities for new developments.
Water pressure should not be reduced for adjacent properties
The development will be required to meet minimum water pressure and fire flow requirements.
What will this do to internet speed in the area?
Internet is not a utility that is controlled by the City. This question should be directed to the internet service provider.
What security measures have been considered for the water tower?
The reservoir currently has various security measures in place to deter security breaches. The development will be required to dedicate access to the reservoir, which will be improved by the development to meet the City Engineering Street Standards. The development will also be required to install removable bollards at the access entrance and install “No Parking” signs to deter illegal vehicle parking from hampering City’s access to the reservoir.
Who will pay for the increased load to water and sewer treatment facilities?
The City decommissioned the water plant a few years ago and now purchases water from the City of Everett and PUD for its customers. Both water and sewer connection fees are required and will be collected for each house upon connection to the City’s system.
Stormwater / Drainage
Runoff impacts to the “yearly high water in the vicinity of the Aquatic Center”
Open air culvert should be covered.
The proposed development project will be constructing roughly 500-feet of new offsite drainage facilities along Terrace Ave. Additional mitigation measures for improving downstream drainage can only be required if the post-developed site’s runoff is greater than that of the predeveloped site. Such will not be the case for this project.
The stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces, including new roadways, would have to be diligently managed per the Department of Ecology’s Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington. These regulations require that the increase in runoff from the expansion of impervious surfaces be mitigated.
The project proposes to achieve this by constructing two separate detention vaults. By collecting all on-site stormwater and detaining it in these vaults before releasing it at a controlled rate, the post-developed site will generate less stormwater flow than the site did in the predeveloped state or currently does.
Stormwater report cites the 2013 plan to install a stormwater system on 16th St, Holly Vista, and Terrace Ave, which has not been done. Will the plan be updated to account for the project and when will it be implemented?
Repavement of Holly Vista Drive is listed in the City’s current Capital Improvement Plan and is tentatively scheduled to be constructed in 2022. This will be funded by the Transportation Benefit District.
Per the City Stormwater Comprehensive Plan, a drainage system must be designed and constructed prior to the paving, which is tentatively scheduled for 2022. The Stormwater Comprehensive Plan also identifies deficiencies and mitigations on the unopened section of Terrace Ave, between 16th and 15th Streets, and on 16th Street, west of Terrace Ave to Pine Ave.
Landscaping / Screening
Privacy concerns with existing SF lots
Establish greenbelts on the north and south sides of the development.
What kind of privacy measures will be in place for neighbors on both sides of development?
Issue with planting scheme along the south border of the development
Land use compatibility is a consideration. In this case, the applicant is proposing detached, single-family homes. This is the same development type found on adjacent properties and throughout the neighborhood.
The development will include rear yards for the proposed lots, however there is no requirement for greenbelts or perimeter landscape buffering where the proposed development type is the same as the neighboring properties (detached, single-family homes), as the code considers this to be a compatible land use. The exception is where there are critical areas, where an undisturbed vegetated buffer is required regardless of land uses.
Native plants should be used in the landscape areas as well as the buffer areas
Native plants are encouraged for landscaped areas, but are not required outside critical areas and buffers.
Maintain and preserve the large trees on the property, particularly Maple tree near NW corner
SMC 14.220.110 requires preservation of existing natural features to the extent possible. In many cases, existing trees must be removed in order to develop the site. Several large trees are identified for preservation on the site plan, particularly those located within critical areas tracts one of which is Tract 998 located in the northwest corner of the site and contains several large trees.
Limit construction hours, noise levels, infrastructure destruction and debris.
Construction noise and hours are regulated by Chapter 8.16 SMC. Under this code, construction is limited to 7am-9pm on weekdays and 9am-9pm on weekends and holidays.
Street parking should not be allowed on Terrace
The City Engineering Street Standards dictate minimum street width requirements which must be satisfied for on-street parking. The project will be required to dedicate 10-feet of right-of-way along the full-length of the parcel adjacent Terrace Avenue which will allow for a parking lane.
Rules for parking on existing streets are determined outside of the development review process. To propose prohibiting parking on Terrace Avenue you should contact the City Engineer and/or an elected representative.
Narrow streets and short lots will make cars park on surrounding streets and neighborhoods
Each dwelling unit is required to provide a minimum of 2 parking spaces. The current proposal is for every house to have a 2-car garage. In addition, driveways will be large enough to accommodate two cars. The interior streets for the proposed parking will allow for on-street parking
There will only be one way in and out to Pine. If there is an emergency, Northridge and Stone Ridge as well as the other homes in Terrace, Holly Vista, and 16th will be severely impacted.
Emergency evacuation would be a disaster with the number of homes accessing this single street.
It is true there is only one way in and out of this neighborhood. However, this situation is an existing deficiency (that exists elsewhere in the city as well) that the City cannot require the developer to remedy.
How will emergency response time be affected?
It is not anticipated that the proposed development will impact emergency response times.
Consider a larger community park
The Parks and Open Space Long Range Plan identifies future parks. This area has several parks within ¼-mile service area.
Misuse of space in the neighborhood; instead we need a park that is not enclosed by trees
The property is privately owned and zoned for residential use.
Existing parks and trails will cost residents more money for upkeep from additional use
All residential developers are required to pay park impact fees per Chapter 14.300 SMC which for 113 single-family dwelling units currently would be $468,950. Private parks are also proposed as part of the development for future residents to use.