The Mill Creek City Council voted 5-0 with two abstentions to accept a 2.2 acre land parcel, a 40-foot wide access easement, and a 15-foot wide utility easement from Pacific Topsoils at the April 24th City Council meeting.
Accepting the warranty deed and easements for this property located east of 35th Avenue SE near Thomas Lake was a required step in a June, 2010 Framework Agreement between the City and Pacific Topsoils that settled a land use dispute.
Previous to the Framework Agreement, Pacific Topsoils operated a business with garden center activities on land designated as Low Density Residential in Mill Creek’s Comprehensive Plan. At the time, the Mill Creek Municipal Code did not allow garden center activities in Low Density Residential or Medium Density Residential zone districts.
In June 2010, the City of Mill Creek and Pacific Topsoils signed off on a Framework Agreement including:
1. The City adopt a Mill Creek Municipal Code amendment authorizing garden centers as a conditional use in the Medium Density Residential (MDR) zone district.
2. Pacific Topsoils apply for and the City approve an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan and zoning map re-designating and rezoning a 4-acre parcel of Pacific Topsoils' property to Medium Density Residential.
3. City approve of a conditional use permit authorizing the garden center activities on Pacific Topsoils' 4-acre parcel.
Two of councilmembers expressed reservations about voting yes to accept the land and easements from Pacific Topsoils.
“This is the tidying up housekeeping for the agreement put together,” said Councilmember Terry Ryan. “I actually voted no on the agreement because I was against the rezone from low density to medium density. So I am vacillating between voting no or abstaining, but I am not going to support this and I wanted to let the council know why.”
Councilmember Mark Harmsworth said, “I am in the same sort of boat because I did vote no against this because I feel it will adversely affect the homeowners to the east, so to be consistent I will probably abstain.”
Councilmember Mark Bond voted no on the Framework Agreement but supports accepting the land, “I also voted no but I am going to support it. The majority of the council went forward with this and I will support it.”
When it came time to vote Ryan said, “It’s important for the City to honor its obligations and the majority of the council did vote for the rezone even though I opposed it, so in deference to the majority I will abstain. I’m just trying to be consistent, but I also want to respect the majority of the City Council by abstaining.”
When the vote was taken Mayor Mike Todd, Councilmember Donna Michelson, Councilmember Kathy Nielsen, Councilmember Bart Masterson, and Councilmember Mark Bond all voted to accept the land parcel from Pacific Topsoils. Councilmembers Terry Ryan and Mark Harmsworth abstained.