The Maple Valley City Council approved an ordinance to re-zone the Brandt Property in the northern part of the city at the Dec. 10 meeting.
The 50 acre chunk of land, located northeast of state Route 169 and Southeast 240th Way, is seen by both the city and the property owners as a potential location for future business growth and tax revenue.
Although the ordinance allows for taller buildings to be built on certain sections of the property, City Manager David Johnston stated that various conditions were placed on development to address concerns from homeowners in nearby residential neighborhoods.
Concerns range from the possible effect on traffic to the appearance of buildings that could potentially go up there. During the public comment section of meetings, as well as in letters written to the city, residents repeatedly asked for a greenbelt buffer of roughly 200 feet to be placed between any development and homes.
Johnston stated that such a proposal would have required the city to buy the property from the owners. Instead, the ordinance requires a building taller than 35 feet to add three feet of setback per extra foot of additional height. In addition to the 20 foot setback already required by existing code, a building 85 feet high would have a setback of 170 feet between it and the residential property zoning line.
In between the building and residential zoning line, however, other infrastructure, such as smaller buildings and streets, could be built, but would still have to be 20 feet away from the residential zoning line.
Johnston said that while the council and the Planning Commission understood residents’ concerns, the property had already been zoned for commercial development when residential neighborhoods were built. He added the new zoning code gives greater flexibility for potential development.
“We’re here to attract jobs, and because we don’t know what businesses would be interested in locating here, you provide a certain amount of latitude,” Johnston said.
Before, the property was zoned as multiple use which the owners, according to the Planning Commission’s recommendation, “have said repeatedly that they have been unable to successfully attract investors and partners and unable to market the property effectively.”
Among the Planning Commission’s recommendations was to split the property into three separate zoning areas. The first section, approximately five acres abutting state Route 169, would be designated as parks, recreation and open space. This would allow for limited commercial and residential uses. Such a designation, according to the Planning Commission’s report, “provides a buffering of the neighborhoods from the highway.” The second area, which is 13 acres, would be designated as commercial business zoning, which allows retail ventures. This would limit a retailer’s size to no more than 100,000 square feet.
The largest portion which comes in at 36 acres, changed to service commercial, which allows for offices, retail, manufacturing and vocational or educational uses. Under service commercial, the minimum height of a building would be 45 feet and the maximum height allowed 100 feet. Under multiple use, the maximum height allowed is 45 feet.
According to a memo sent by Community Development Director Ty Peterson to the City Council, the Planning Commission decided to recommend allowing for building heights up to 100 feet after also agreeing that certain conditions must be met.
Some of those conditions include requiring the structure to be on a site 10 acres or larger and increasing the landscape buffer requirements based on the additional height above 35 feet.
Transpo Group performed a traffic analysis and concluded that traffic volumes would not likely change and that Level of Service (LOS) would essentially remain the same, according to Peterson’s memo.
The Maple Valley City Council first considered the zoning changes in September, after the Maple Valley Planning Commission voted to recommend the changes. The City Council eventually voted to amend the city’s comprehensive plan, the city’s blueprint for development.