Imagine being able to buy a new couch, do all of your kids’ back-to-school shopping and stop for a bite to eat without having to leave Lake Stevens. A “one stop shopping” trip, if you will.
After months of research, public meetings and planning, the City of Lake Stevens has completed sub area plans for both the 20th St. SE corridor and Lake Stevens Center, formally known as Frontier Village.
It is highly unusual for a city to develop two sub area plans at once, but city staff realized that this would be best for the city and its economic future.
“It is rare to do two sub area plans at once and our staff has done an amazing job,” Lake Stevens City Administrator Jan Berg said. “We decided to do both at the same time because of the opportunities for development in both areas.”
There have already been several public meetings including those held with local business owners. Through those meetings, the city has developed plans that are conducive to one another and will include not only commercial and residential development but also walking and biking trails that will connect the two areas and beyond.
“An exciting feature is that the design guidelines and the new zoning code will support pedestrian friendly development and infrastructure,” Berg said.
The city has been diligently looking at its finances and the need to bring in a bigger commercial base that’s practical and necessary for the city to continue to be viable for decades to come.
“One reason we annexed the South Lake area was to bring in areas for more commercial development opportunities,” City Planning Director Becky Ableman said. “We’re optimistic because the economy is turning around and we’ve seen positive interest in both 20th St. SE and Lake Stevens Center.”
The city has begun outreach efforts to developers and has had positive feedback thus far. The new zoning and permitting system will help make the process easier for those wanting to build here.
“By doing the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) during this process helps get developers through that piece of the procedure because it has already been done for them. It streamlines the process in both time and cost,” Berg explained.
This will also position the city to apply for grants to increase funding for these areas.
“Once you have a plan in place you can start looking for funding through grants and other funding opportunities,” Ableman said.
There is still infrastructure work that needs to occur including streets and sewer work before building will actually be seen.
“This may take a couple of years before we will see something sprouting from the ground,” Berg said.
However, when building does start to happen you will see mixed use zoning that may include retail or office space on the street level with residential on top. Some areas that already do this type of zoning include Snohomish on Bickford Ave. near Snohomish Station, Woodinville and Mill Creek.
“As redevelopment occurs we’re showing mixed use zones, both horizontal and vertical use and higher density around commercial areas,” Berg explained.
The city council has not yet adopted the plans and will hold public hearings on August 27 and Sept. 10. However, the Lake Stevens Planning Commission has already listened to testimony from several sources.
They will hold a continuation of the public meeting Wednesday, August 15 at the Lake Stevens Community Center at 1808 South Main St. at 7 p.m.
“We haven’t seen any strong opposition and we’re hoping that more people will come out and give the decision makers their opinions,” Ableman said.
Keeping sales tax dollars in Lake Stevens is essential to the growth of the city and by planning both areas at the same time the possibility of this happening is greatly enhanced.
“We want to bring in goods and services that we need and create a stronger retail base which the community needs,” Berg said. “We want to keep people local and bring in sales tax to help pay for services.”
By shopping local it will not only create a better sales tax base but will also create a greater sense of community.
“It is an opportunity to really create the sense of place for the community to gather,” Ableman said. “The guidelines aren’t tough and will create nice looking buildings.”
To find out more you can visit the city’s website at http://wa-lakestevens.civicplus.com/index.aspx
and click on ‘Doing Business’.