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Burlington to vote on zoning change

December 28, 2018

BURLINGTON — The Burlington City Council will vote Thursday on a proposed zoning change that has sparked concerns from some residents.

The council was scheduled to make a decision Dec. 13 on rezoning about 15 acres west of Interstate 5 along Goldenrod Road and east of the Markwood Road neighborhood, but the vote was postponed after about 50 residents voiced concerns at the meeting.

The rezoning would change the land’s designation from general commercial to heavy commercial, allowing vehicle sales and other outdoor uses.

To comply with state law, the rezoning would also have to be reflected in the city’s comprehensive plan maps.

Apache Camping Center, a regional travel trailer and camper company, has expressed interest in moving onto the land.

The residents’ main concerns were increased traffic and noise, diminished road accessibility, future land use and poor communication from the Burlington Planning Department.

According to the Dec. 13 meeting agenda, the city of Burlington received an application from property owner Miles Schlosberg of I-5 Burlington LLC in October 2017 requesting the rezone.

The majority of residents said they first became aware of the proposed rezoning through a letter mailed Nov. 8 by the Planning Department.

At the Dec. 13 meeting, senior planner Brad Johnson said notices of the proposed rezoning were published in the Skagit Valley Herald, but acknowledged the mailed notice was more effective than using the newspaper.

The letter spurred about 10 neighbors, including Steve Crider, a Markwood Road resident of 25 years, to attend a Nov. 21 meeting of the city’s Planning Commission.

“That’s when the community first came together,” Crider said.

Following the meeting, a group of neighbors collected about 55 signatures of those supporting the concerns in the neighborhood. The list was presented Dec. 13 to the City Council by Crider, who spoke at the meeting about how he feels the Planning Department went wrong.

“If better process had been followed, we might be having a better conversation,” he said.

Resident Sirilio Soria said he understands development is inevitable, but he found fault in the Planning Department’s communication.

“You’ve been working on this for two years and we found out the day before Thanksgiving,” he said. “You need to inform people a lot sooner.”

The Planning Commission acknowledged potential confusion regarding the city’s requirements for giving public notice in a Nov. 21 recommendation to the City Council.

The recommendation stated requirements should be revised for clarity and effectiveness during the ongoing comprehensive plan and zoning update project.

On Dec. 13, those in favor of the rezoning included Schlosberg, Apache Camping Center President Kevin Baker, civil engineer of the project John Ravnik, and John McCanna, senior project manager with Fisher Construction Group, which borders the property.

Baker said an expansion to Burlington would bring the city 30 jobs, additional tax revenue and products that would be well-supported in the community.

The Planning Commission is recommending the City Council approve the proposed rezoning, stating the property was established for the purpose of accommodating vehicle sales and other similar uses.

The commission stated vehicle sales tend to generate significant sales tax revenue, and no evidence has been submitted that proves uses in heavy commercial zones generate more noise than uses allowed in general commercial zones.

If the council decides to send the matter back to the Planning Commission, the property owner will not receive a decision until December 2019, as amendments to the comprehensive plan can only be considered once a year.

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