Two sub-area plans will help grow city financially
Imagine living near a beautiful lake with snow-capped mountains surrounding lush greenery. A place where the citizens thrive due to an outpouring of support and kindness, a great school system and businesses of all types offering not only jobs but the necessities and amenities of life just around the corner.
It sounds like Lake Stevens, except for the abundant job offerings and many of the amenities that families need nearby.
The city staff and city council are working on ideas that will change that in the future. A future that will bring more jobs and an increased number of retail offerings to this quaint little town which we all call home.
“I’m really excited about it,” Lake Stevens Mayor Vern Little said. “It’s absolutely the right thing to do, it’s a step in the right direction for our citizens. It will bring the goods and services that people need and want.”
After several meetings with local business people, the city held a public input meeting on Thursday, January 12 where they shared their findings and three alternative plans for the development of the Lake Stevens Center, which was formerly known as the Frontier Village area.
There are three plans to choose from, the first alternative is to leave things as they are and do nothing.
The second alternative offers a center revitalization including: Intensive commercial growth in existing centers and new use-specific nodes; “Main Street” along 91st with mixed-use development; High-density residential growth in several areas; Transit-oriented development; Emphasizes gateways to the area; Proposes to repair the street grid around “Frontier Village”; Connects the subareas along 91st and 99th; and proposes to use the utility corridor for recreational purposes.
The third offers retail and residential emphasis which includes: Commercial growth in existing centers and new use-specific nodes; Less office and mixed-use including increased high-density residential growth; “Main Street” along 91st St.; Transit-oriented development; Emphasizes gateways (signage, landscaping, etc.) to the area; Proposes to repair the street grid around “Frontier Village”; Connects the subareas along 91st and 99th; Proposes to use the utility corridor for recreational purposes.
While the city has also been developing plans for the 20th Street SE sub area, Thursday’s meeting focused solely on Lake Stevens Center but both sub area plans are going forward in tandem.
One of the major issues the city has examined is retail leakage.
In layman’s terms retail leakage refers to consumers who spend their money outside their local market. For example, traveling to Everett to purchase furniture or clothing because the offerings in Lake Stevens are slim to none.
“That means that their tax dollars are spent outside of the city,” City of Lake Stevens Planning Director Becky Ableman explained. “Taxes which are used for roads, parks and more are leaving the city.”
The Environmental Impact Studies, which the city has had done for both 20th Street SE and Lake Stevens Center, gives the city an idea of how much retail space the city could actually absorb. This includes growth and employment.
“The growth is based on data that came from growth scenarios. The other piece to that is that the city is looking to enhance its employment base,” Ableman said.
Using Smart Growth Principles to ensure a future Lake Stevens that offers more pedestrian traffic, a variety of retail choices and better transportation throughout the city are important to future growth.
Other Smart Growth Principles include mix land uses, creating walkable neighborhoods, compact building design, preservation of open space, natural beauty and critical environmental areas and offering a variety of transportation choices.
All of these and more are being looked at as the city continues planning for the future.
“The biggest impact is going to be on the transportation system,” Ableman said. “There will be opportunities to improve on transportation. We are looking at both short term and long term transportation issues.”
Right now these are 10 to 15 year plans but the council wants to be prepared when the economy starts to improve.
“The mayor and the council want to make sure we’re poised when the economy rebounds. We want to be in a position to attract those goods and services,” Ableman said. “We are in the process of analyzing that right now. Of course development will pay for some of that.”
Although the plan is currently a plan for the next decade, the city would like to see retail and employment rise in the next few years.
“We are out talking to businesses, developers and property owners to try and get that going,” Ableman said.
The city staff and council urge Lake Stevens citizens to get involved in the future planning of the city and invite public comment at city council meetings in the near future, most likely in the spring.
“These plans are expected to be adopted by the council in late May or early June,” Ableman explained. “They will also adopt a planned action ordinance which means the city has done the upfront environmental work to help streamline the development process. This will provide predictability to developers.”
“The important piece is that we are prepared and ready with a plan. When development is ready they will know exactly what to expect,” Little said.
If you would like to be notified of future public meetings or public hearings you can email the city at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at 425-334-1012.
“We encourage public participation because that is the key to a public plan,” Ableman said.