2 sides speak at Harbor Square plan hearing

The drawings of buildings and plans are only conceptual – trying to show what COULD be built there
By Pat Ratliff | Dec 06, 2012

The Edmonds City Council got its first “official” public taste of the Port of Edmonds’ Harbor Square Master Plan on Tuesday.

This was the first public hearing on the plan at the City Council level, although it’s had a number of public hearings and public comment opportunities at both the port and planning commission levels.

The Port even mailed out brochures to the public explaining the plan.

The Port wants its Harbor Square Master Plan incorporated into the City’s Comprehensive Plan, which is the next step before the Port begin looking for development opportunities.

But some believe much of the discussion is taking the drawings of buildings and various height limits (a sure-fire hot-button issue in Edmonds), perhaps, a little too literally.

According to Kernen Lien, associate planner for the City of Edmonds, “the Harbor Square Master Plan contains some language on the types of uses to be allowed and building heights; the request is not for a rezone and is not a project level proposal.

“However, incorporating the Port’s Harbor Square Master Plan into the Comprehensive Plan would lay the foundation for a future rezone and/or development agreement for the Harbor Square property to support a mixed-use transit-oriented development.”

In other words, the drawings of buildings and plans are only conceptual – trying to show what COULD be built there.

The Port, should the plan be accepted, would then need to find a developer interested in building a project on the Harbor Square Property.

That project would then need to be discussed in detail and passed by the council as a project level proposal.

The plan, as might be expected, has prompted a lot of discussion, and the council’s initial public hearing enabled a large number of citizens to voice their opinions.

Both sides of the issue made good points for the public and council to consider.


What they said:


Against passage of the Harbor Square Master Plan


“Against 55-foot limit – If we go 55 feet we’ll have to let everyone go 55 feet.

“A loss of our lovely town – keep the bowl concept as it is.”

(On views) “The methodology used in the UW study is not conclusive.”

“We want to maintain our village atmosphere, but we’re talking about a different kind of village.”

“It bothers me that the antique mall is not being considered at the same time.”

“Several environmental plans need to be considered now – not later.”

“Just want to keep Edmonds the way it is.”

“It will negatively affect the beauty and views to residents and visitors.”

“Something is missing – the shadow effect. It will leave a cold corridor.”


For passage of the Harbor Square Master Plan


“It will increase the tax base, help fund the arts, and diversify the life and growth of Edmonds.”

“A redeveloped Harbor Square will help prevent loss of views, not impede them.”

“This is just trying to take the next step, some of our values are in jeopardy.”

“The council needs to protect the public view, not the private view.”

“It will create an entry point and a visual gateway to downtown.”

“The marsh will be enhanced, not just ‘as is.’”

“A plus to the entire city, not just the business community.”

“What is there now is not what we want.”

“Plan provides relief for property taxes for years to come.”

“It can be the centerpiece of a newly beautiful and vibrant downtown.”


The next public hearing will be Tuesday, Dec. 18, at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting. Be there to let your council members know how you feel about the issue.



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