Local News

City adopts comprehensive plan

  by Jeff Switzer
   WOODINVILLE-The City Council passed its comprehensive plan last week, a 20-year planning document that will guide policy decisions on everything from development to parks, transportation and affordable housing.
   The plan accounts for the projected 1,800 housing units and 2,000 jobs expected in Woodinville within the next two decades.
   The council passed the plan 5-0: Deputy Mayor Don Bro-cha and Councilmembers Mar-sha Engel, Scott Hageman, Art Saulness and Barbara Solberg voted in favor, with none against. Mayor Bob Miller and Councilmember Lucy De-Young were excused.
   The next step will come from the Planning Commission, charged with the task of developing a draft zoning code, the document which implements the policy document.
   The comprehensive plan assigns "zoning designations" such as low, moderate or high; the zoning code specifically assigns the number of units per acre.
   The city has until Mar. 31, 1997 to adopt its zoning code to comply with the state timeline.
   During the public hearing, a citizen was concerned that the council's action may result in a higher tax assessment on his property as the density is increased.
   City Attorney Wayne Tanaka and staff responded last week that zoning is only "one piece of a large puzzle."
   Market forces must be present for a higher tax assessment and properties are assessed at their highest and best use regardless, they said.
   "A governmental action such as a rezone does not automatically result in a higher assessment," the staff report said.
   Cleveland says the plan reflects a lot of hard work by the staff and citizens, and is one the city can be very proud of.
   "You don't get to walk into the beginning of a city every day," said Cleveland. "This has been a learning experience for all of us. Both the City Council and the Planning Commission wanted to make sure the public input was there to make it their plan."
   Cleveland said that while that part wasn't always easy, in the end the needs of the community and what the citizens felt was really important became much clearer.
  
   Comp Plan highlights
   The city has added sections beyond the required land-use, housing, transportation, capital facilities and utilities, outlining policies on human services, economic development, community design and parks and recreation.
   King County's urban-rural line marks the city's eastern border, and because annexations must be urban, the city cannot grow to the east unless the line shifts.
   The only annexation and joint planning area in the plan discusses the 500-acre Grace Industrial area, which includes the University of Washington-owned golf course and the Highway 9 corridor to 224 Street SE.
   The land-use section of the plan focuses commercial and housing uses in the downtown core of the city where the infrastructure is designed to handle the more intense use. Intensity diminishes farther out from the downtown.
   General commercial, a new zoning designation, has been added to the map, reflecting the reality of the heavy commercial areas along SR 522 and NE 171 Street.
   The housing element provides for a diversity of housing types available at a variety of income levels while also endeavoring to protect existing neighborhoods. The zoning code will be the mechanism by which the city will provide the 1,800 housing units allocated by the state.
   The human services element is designed to outline the services the city wants to provide or fund, such as the recreation contract with the YMCA.
   Of the 21 King County Health districts, the Bothell/Woodinville area ranks third in the county for hospitalization of children for depression and eighth for alcohol related hospitalizations for children, and the city focuses some funding towards counseling and crisis services for this area.
   Economic development is also another optional element, and the city is taking a middle-of-the-road position, being as supportive of business in their natural capacities as possible. Examples include simplifying the permitting process, providing infrastructure for businesses and promoting tourism.
  
   Parks, transportation and design
   According to Stephanie Cleveland, the optional parks element of the plan was almost a required element for Woodinville given the emphasis on the need for parks during the city's visioning process. To this end, the city actively pursues funding for park acquisition and development.
   The community design portion emphasizes the gateways to Woodinville, so "you know when you've arrived." It also lays down basic policies promoting aesthetics protecting the character of Woodinville, the neighborhoods, the city's heritage and cultural resources.
   This section is backed up by the Interim Design Principles the city adopted, guiding development in the commercial area.
   The transportation, utilities and capital facilities elements list the road and utility projects throughout the city, constructed by either the city or other agencies such as the water district.
   This element also outlines the city's funding for them. Comprehensive plans before the GMA often amounted to wish lists of projects but no funding sources to follow through with them.
   Comp plans today are required to balance their books and show funding sources as best they can for projects 15 years in the future. This week, the City Council began its Six-Year Capital Improvement Project (CIP) discussions, which will allocate more detailed funding and timelines for the projects within the comp plan.
   Jeff Switzer/Woodinville Weekly
   Planning Director Ray Sturtz (left) and City Planner Stephanie Cleveland describe the city's comprehensive plan as a "real team effort," one which involved dozens of staff members, consultants and more than 60 citizen volunteers during the past two-and-a-half years.