Shoring up plans for the riverfront


Herald Writer

EVERETT — The vacant lands along the Snohomish River are likely to change in coming years.

Now is the time to tell city leaders your opinion on whether a draft shoreline plan sets the right tone for how those shorelines may be developed.

The city’s planning commission will hear public testimony Tuesday that will focus on shorelines issues related to riverfront properties.

That includes the city-owned Simpson site and the East Everett recreation site near the Lowell neighborhood.

"This is the riverfront area that has gotten a lot of attention," said Paul Roberts, planning director.

The draft plan identifies a 45-acre development pad within 136 acres of the Simpson site. The rest of the site would be open space and wetlands, Roberts said.

The draft plan also identifies 300 acres for recreation use south of there along the Snohomish River. Some have raised concerns that the property is in the flood plain.

There would be no major structures there, Roberts said. Some of it would be used for ball fields and a golf program for youngsters. The rest of the property would be used for wetland mitigation and restoration.

The planning commission set aside specific time to talk about issues that have stirred public interest, Roberts said. Those issues include public access to shorelines, water-dependent and water-related development, people who live on boats in the Port of Everett Marina and the riverfront area, he said.

"I think those are the issues that are emerging," Roberts said.

For about two years, a volunteer shoreline committee worked on updates to the 1976 city shoreline plan. Now, proposed changes to the state-mandated document is in the planning commission’s hands. The vision identifies areas for public access, economic development and environmental restoration.

The city council, and then the state Department of Ecology, must sign off on a final plan.

For more than 20 years the city has used a shoreline program to help guide shoreline use and preservation. The program provides development standards and citizen comment periods specifically for projects proposed for shoreline areas such as Possession Sound, the Snohomish River and Silver Lake.

The state Shoreline Management Act of 1971 requires cities and counties to develop a shoreline permit system for proposed development within 200 feet of designated water, an inventory of natural characteristics and land-use patterns along the shoreline, and a master program to determine future uses of shorelines.

The vision focuses on the port marina area, north of the 10th Street boat launch and west of Highway 529, Smith and Spencer islands, the Riverside industrial area in northeast Everett, the riverfront south of U.S. 2, the former Mukilteo jet fuel storage site, the deep-water port area, Lake Stickney, Silver Lake and Rotary Park on the Snohomish River.

Roberts said planning commission members hope to wrap up their work on the draft plan by the end of the year. The planning commission will make a recommendation to the city council, which will also hear public testimony on the plan. Ecology also must sign off on the final plan.

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