Plans altered for urban center south of Everett

Snohomish County planners have made key changes to plans for an urban center at 128th Street SW and I-5, and will present the latest plan for the area at an open house tonight.

The county’s previous plan for an urban center in the McCollum Park area caused an uproar among nearby residents. They said greater housing density would mean increasingly crowded schools and roads, rising crime and harm to wetlands.

The urban center open house will be 6:30-8:30 p.m. today at Voyager Middle School, 11711 Fourth Ave. W., Everett.

The latest version of the plan has a smaller area zoned for the urban center. And the neighborhood south of 128th Street SE and east of I-5 has been cut out of the plan altogether.

County planner David Killingstad said a meeting with more than 50 residents last year led to the changes.

“We got some wonderful comments, not all of them negative,” Killingstad recalled. “Some of them are very passionate about what happens in those neighborhoods.”

Residents talked about issues surrounding development, such as preserving trees, building more walking paths and parks and limiting high-rise developments.

They then were asked to come up with conceptual maps for the area, which were combined into the one being presented at tonight’s open house, Killingstad said.

The map is still subject to change.

“We’re looking for feedback,” Killingstad said. “Are we reading you right, or are there some changes we need to make?”

Urban centers are areas that have a mix of land uses. They include apartments, condos and single-family homes, as well as retail businesses, offices, parks and open space.

Such areas have been part of the county’s growth plan for years. County planners have been revisiting the urban center proposed for 128th Street SW as part of the 10-year update to the county’s comprehensive plan, the set of growth policies and zoning maps that will guide development in the county for the next two decades.

County officials have been studying places where housing density can be increased throughout the county as part of rewriting the growth plan. They also are looking for areas that can handle a portion of the population that’s expected to live here during the next wave of growth.

Snohomish County expects to grow by approximately 300,000 people over the next 20 years.

Urban centers, however, have turned out to be one of the most contentious components of the updated plan.

Residents bombarded county planners with letters protesting the increase in multi-family housing that the center would bring to the McCollum Park area.

In the latest urban center plan for the I-5’s 128th Street interchange, the planning area has been cut by 82 acres to 453 acres. The new plan includes an expanded transit center, a neighborhood center, and a pedestrian-friendly main street on the west side of I-5.

Beyond tonight’s open house, people will be able to learn more or comment about urban centers and the county’s overall growth plan at workshops in Everett, Lynnwood and Arlington later this month.

Public hearings on the updated plan start in late May and continue into June.

William Page, who lives about a mile south of the I-5’s 128th Street interchange, said it was good news that the county has backed away from including the southeast corner in its plans for an urban center.

His main concern was more traffic.

“There’s enough traffic coming down there now with all the houses being built. Right now, it’s bad enough,” Page said. “Put more in there and you wouldn’t be able to get on 128th.”

Reporter Brian Kelly: 425-339-3422 or

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