Arlington plans to make space for its population boom

ARLINGTON — City officials say they need to make space for at least 7,000 more people and 3,000 new housing units over the next 20 years.

There’s not enough room in Arlington’s residential zones to keep up with the population wave that’s expected in north Snohomish County, said Marc Hayes, the city’s director of community and economic development. City leaders are considering an update to development regulations that would allow for mixed-use neighborhoods in commercial zones.

Mixed-use can include buildings with shops or offices on the ground floor and apartments or condominiums above. It also can take the form of stores or restaurants along the street with apartments or townhomes next door and parking in the back. The key is that shops, eateries, offices, parks, plazas and multi-family housing all are within the same neighborhood.

It’s a denser type of development that planners hope could provide more homes while preserving the character of Arlington by adding community spaces and attractions within those mixed-use neighborhoods.

A series of public meetings is scheduled so people can see examples of mixed-use ideas and maps of where they might go in the city. They can weigh in with questions or concerns.

The meetings are Tuesday and Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday’s meeting is at the Arlington Airport Office, 18204 59th Ave. NE, and Wednesday’s is at Smokey Point Community Church, 17721 Smokey Point Blvd.

Additional meetings are scheduled for July 11, 25 and 26, when planners aim to have responses for questions and suggestions from the first round of meetings, Hayes said.

Population estimates call for Arlington to grow from 18,500 people today to nearly 25,000 by 2035.

“People don’t want to really acknowledge that we’re looking at this type of a boom in population, but if you look around the region right now, you see it occurring everywhere,” Hayes said. “With the land prices and housing prices what they are in Pierce and King County, we’re seeing a lot more people moving north. There’s still land up here.”

Parts of Arlington where mixed-use projects may be considered include 172nd Street NE and Smokey Point Boulevard, near the round-about at Highway 9 and 172nd, and in the Kent Prairie area near 204th Street NE.

The Arlington City Council is expected to review proposed updates to development regulations this summer, Hayes said.

More information is available on the city’s website at arlingtonwa.gov/mixeduse.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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