October 28, 2019

Development Moratorium

On October 8, 2019 the Fircrest City Council passed Ordinance No. 1644 adopting a 6-month moratorium on new development applications for properties zoned Commercial Mixed Use and Residential-30 in the northwest corner of the City.

What is a moratorium: A moratorium is a pause on all new development, land use, and construction applications in order for a City to consider new development and zoning regulations. The State of Washington grants Cities the authority to adopt a moratorium under RCW 36.70A.390.

What types of projects does the moratorium effect: The moratorium prohibiting the submission or acceptance of any development applications for new development, additions, and alterations in the identified area.

What part of the City does it effect: The moratorium effects approximately 44 acres in the northwest corner of the city, bounded by 19th Street West and Mildred Street West. The properties are zoned Commercial Mixed Use and Residential-30. Click here to see the map.

What doesn’t it effect: The moratorium does not apply to any application that were submitted prior to the moratorium, tenant improvements of existing non-residential buildings, applications for home occupations, applications for sign permits, and applications for permits that are required for upkeep, repair or maintenance of existing buildings and properties or work mandated by the City to maintain public health and safety. The moratorium also does not apply to any property outside of the area identified on the map.

What is the City proposing: In short, the City is proposing to allow mixed use development similar to Proctor Station and University Place Town Center. This would occur through changes to the development standards and the establishment of a “form-based code.” A “form-based code” provides greater certainty to the development review process (which developers like) and achieve higher quality residential and mixed-use project designs (which benefits the community).

Why a moratorium: A moratorium gives time. The City Council recognizes the importance of this area to the economic sustainability of the community and felt the current codes could not best address the current interest and needs of the area.

The 19th and Mildred Street intersection is a nexus for three city jurisdictions (Fircrest, University Place, and Tacoma), two transit agencies (Pierce Transit and Sound Transit), the Tacoma Community College, and the Tacoma Housing Authority. It is the proposed terminus for the light rail extension. Efforts have been made over the last several years to encourage cooperation as we plan for and promote this area.

This area is of great interest to developers, but our zoning and land use regulations are outdated and unable to keep up with the changing development landscape. The current codes were designed with the expectation of a big box store, but that is an outdated retail model. The moratorium will allow staff and the Planning Commission to work with the community, property owners, businesses, developers, and other stakeholder to develop high quality amendments.

How long will it last: As the process moves forward, staff will have better understanding of the timeline. The work plan includes study, public outreach, a draft proposal and public hearings before both the Planning Commission and the City Council. This is a lot to do in 6-months, but the City Council, Planning Commission, and staff are already working diligently on these amendments. If the City Council needs to approve an extension, they would first hold a public hearing, demonstrate significant progress, and outline the steps remaining.

Opportunities to participate:

November 5, 2019 – Planning Commission Study Session: Staff will be presenting an overview of the work plan and schedule as well as a brief presentation of form-based code. Agenda Packet

November 12, 2019 – City Council Public Hearing: The City Council will receive public comment on the adopted moratorium. The Agenda Packet is posted the Friday before the meeting.

Future dates will be posted as opportunities are scheduled.


Published Notice:

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Fircrest City Council will conduct a public hearing on November 12, 2019, commencing at 7:15 P.M. or soon thereafter, to accept public comments on Ordinance No. 1644 relating to land use and zoning, adopting a six-month moratorium prohibiting the submission or acceptance of any development applications for new development, additions, and alterations in the property comprised of 44 acres, located at the northwest corner of the city, bounded by 19th Street West and Mildred Street West, zoned Commercial Mixed Use and Residential-30, and proposed to be designated as a Countywide Center in the countywide planning policies, said moratorium to be in effect while the City performs the activities described in this ordinance.

Individuals who desire special accommodations should contact the Fircrest City Clerk at least 48 business hours prior to this meeting. Citizens attending the public hearing have the right to provide written and oral comments. Written comment may be sent in advance of the hearing to: City Clerk, 115 Ramsdell Street, Fircrest, WA 98466; phone: 253.564.8901; fax: 253.566.0762. Please visit www.cityoffircrest.net or contact Fircrest City Hall at (253) 564-8901 for more information.

View Ordinance No. 1644


Back to Blog