Zoning may help Smokey Point grow

ARLINGTON — City officials envision a thriving shopping area north of Smokey Point filled with retail shops, movie theaters, restaurants and offices.

The Arlington City Council took steps toward this goal by preparing to change the zoning of the area to allow for tax-revenue-producing businesses.

Previously zoned for light industrial uses by Snohomish County, the more than 100 acres along Smokey Point Boulevard between 188th Street NE and 200th Street NE may not see commercial growth until the economy turns around.

However, changing the zoning to a highway-commercial designation gives the city a chance to encourage and control urban growth along the corridor, city officials said.

“We have to look to the future,” Councilman Steve Baker said at the council’s meeting last week. “The goal is to try to make it a nice business area.”

The council is expected to approve an ordinance making the city’s comprehensive plan and zoning changes for the area official at its next meeting, in March.

Smokey Point Boulevard, also known as Old Highway 99, is a prime location for continued commercial growth from Smokey Point to Island Crossing, city planner Yvonne Page said. The area has good visibility from I-5 and along the busy boulevard, she said.

“Right now there are few places within the city limits to buy clothing, for example,” Page said. “This is an area that is viable for that kind of commercial growth.”

The Island Crossing area near the intersection of I-5 and Highway 530 is the other half of a 210-acre annexation that was approved by the City Council in November.

When the state Supreme Court ruled in October that inclusion of Island Crossing in the city’s urban growth area was valid, city officials believed the ruling paved the way for annexation.

Attorneys for Snohomish County filed a lawsuit in December demanding the city repeal the annexation of the Island Crossing portion. They argued that the county would have to go back and again place the area in Arlington’s urban growth area in order for the annexation to be legal. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair ruled that step was unnecessary.

In a split vote in January, the County Council voted not to appeal Judge Fair’s decision that Arlington’s annexation is legal and valid.

The Island Crossing area also is zoned for highway commercial uses, city planner Page said.

The zoning change for the area between Island Crossing and Smokey Point should allow for “a much nicer transition,” she said.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427, gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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