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Mill Creek City Council may again halt East Gateway Urban Village development activity

A number of Mill Creek City Councilmembers expressed displeasure with the city’s current East Gateway Urban Village land use policies and may decide to impose a new emergency six-month development moratorium. Photo credit: Lesley Van Winkle.
The current East Gateway Urban Village regulations require new construction to be entirely commercial or mixed-use with residential above ground-floor commercial. Photo credit: Lesley Van Winkle.

By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.

July 17, 2016, update.

They were supposed to discuss East Gateway Urban Village land use and perhaps impose another development moratorium at their regular July 12, 2016, meeting. Instead they decided to postpone everything until their next meeting on July 26th.

At the beginning of the meeting Mayor Pam Pruitt summarized, “There were some legal questions to be answered so we’d like to kick this down the road two weeks until we have all of the available information.”

Acting City Manager Scott Smith said that staff didn’t have enough time to research the legality of another development moratorium.

City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto assigned City Engineer Scott Smith to act in her behalf while she was out of town.

Smith told the Mill Creek City Council, “The discussion last week did raise some legal questions on our end that we wanted to check with the city attorney’s office… There were some procedural vesting questions that we weren’t sure about.”

Polizzotto outsourced Mill Creek’s legal work to Short Cressman & Burgess PLLC in Seattle after City Attorney Shane Moloney resigned in December last year.

Smith said all of the attorneys assigned to Mill Creek were on vacation and unavailable for questions and Polizzotto’s absence also made it difficult to respond.

Smith went on to say there was very little chance that a landowner would submit a development proposal to the city before the potential development moratorium could be imposed on July 26th.

Original July 10, 2016, article.

A number of Mill Creek city councilmembers expressed displeasure with the city’s current East Gateway Urban Village land use policies at their regular July 5, 2016, meeting.

As a result, the city council may decide to impose a new emergency six-month development moratorium at their Tuesday, July 12th meeting so that they can figure out what to do.

The previous East Gateway Urban Village development moratorium lasted nine months, from June 30, 2015, to March 31, 2016.

The city council discussed the issue at their March 22, 2016, meeting and allowed the moratorium to expire without making any changes to the East Gateway Urban Village development regulations.

Councilmember Sean Kelly opened the July 5th discussion by saying, “I’m not sure we ever finished our discussion on EGUV. I know that we lifted the moratorium and we never went back to revisit the code… We just couldn’t come to an agreement.”

He suggested that another development moratorium might be required so that the city council could decide what land use changes should be made.

The current East Gateway Urban Village regulations require new construction to be entirely commercial or mixed-use with residential above ground-floor commercial.

Stand-alone apartments are not currently allowed.

Councilmember Mark Bond said that he feels the current East Gateway Urban Village code didn’t coincide with his vision for Mill Creek and wondered if he “didn’t make a mistake” with his decision to allow the previous moratorium to expire.

He said that he might support public infrastructure investment to encourage commercial development rather than mixed commercial and residential uses.

Councilmember Vince Cavaleri also said he would like to revisit the issue.

Mayor Pam Pruitt asked City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto to prepare an ordinance imposing another emergency six-month East Gateway Urban Village development moratorium for their July 12th discussion. Pruitt went on to say then it would be ready if the city council decided to use it.

The discussion is on the agenda for the July 12th city council meeting.

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Ideas for EGUV

Cinnabar Movie-Theater (that's half kid-friendly), Crate & Barrel, Trader Joes, Whole Foods 365, Amazon Books, Modern Mill-inspired Library, consignment furniture and/or clothing boutiques, Starbucks Drive-through (paired with perhaps their 1st French Bakery venture), Boardwalk wrapping Thomas Lake with a central fountain and a beachside park, a web of trails interlocking the surrounding communities, Jimmy John's or Potbelly Subs, I can go on...

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