Historical Info re The Farm Development Approval

Site map for The FarmThe City of Mill Creek approved a Binding Site Plan for a project called The Farm at Mill Creek. See project proposal documents and sign up for e-notifications.

The Mill Creek City Council held its first study session on Feb. 19, 2019, regarding the East Gateway Urban Village zone and The Farm at Mill Creek. During this meeting, the Farm developer presented his vision and details associated with the project. The developer indicated that the project would entail over 100,000 square feet of retail/commercial uses, and 355 residential apartments.

The City’s development code describes a process that the City must follow when an application is received. In addition, because this proposed development is in the East Gateway Urban Village – a specialized zoning area (see sidebar) – it requires the approval of the Master Development Plan, which includes the following three items: The site plan as of February 2019
  1. Binding Site Plan (approved by the Hearing Examiner)
  2. An evaluation of consistency with the adopted urban village design guidelines (approved by the Hearing Examiner)
  3. Development Agreement (approved by the Council)

A development agreement must be negotiated between the City and the developer. The decision to grant or deny a development, similar to development throughout the City and state, is based on the zoning, codes, and regulations in place at the time a development is determined to be complete. The City Council approved the development agreement on March 26. Learn more about this and next steps.

View the City's responses to frequently asked questions about the proposed development (Updated March 7, 2019).

Affordable Housing
The developer is proposing a workforce housing project as part of the Farm development targeting 100% of the 355 units at 60% of the average median income (AMI). The developer has indicated that the financing program he is considering will allow up to a maximum of 60% of the Snohomish County AMI. Based upon a 60% AMI of Snohomish County, incomes of residential tenants must be no more than $44,940 for an individual, $51,360 for a family of two, or $57,780 for a family of three, etc. (see chart below).

"Workforce Housing" is a term increasingly used by planners, government and organizations concerned with housing policy or advocacy to describe housing for people who are employed, and in this case, earning 60% of the AMI.  Workforce housing is promoted as attractive and affordable housing for teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, nurses, in close proximity to their jobs. "Workforce housing" can refer to any form of housing, including single or multifamily homes. The tenants are screened and audited on an annual basis through the state program. The City code does not regulate developer funding sources. But the City does require the same high standard of development for all commercial and housing units in the City regardless of the funding sources.
A graphic showing Washington State Income & Rent Limits for Housing Trust Fund Projects in 2018


Completed Steps:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 26, 6 p.m. (City Hall Council Chambers): Development Agreement Council Study Session. See the Feb. 26 Council Agenda Summary and attachments.    
  • Tuesday, March 26, 6 p.m. (City Hall Council Chambers): Public Hearing Regarding the Development Agreement. See the Council Presentation.
  • Friday, April 19: City Issuance of SEPA Threshold Determination
  • May 23, 2019, 6 p.m. (City Hall Council Chambers): Public Hearing on Binding Site Plan
  • June 7, 2019 Decision for the Hearing Examiner
  • Formal Design Review Board
  • Clearing and grading
  • Building Permits Applications (Staff Review - no public participation)
Overview of the Development Process
Binding Site Plan
A rendering of the project as of February 2019The first step in this process is the developer’s submission of a binding site plan. This was submitted in March 2018.

Completeness Letter
Following the developer’s submission of the binding site plan, the next step was public notification of the development application. This is acknowledgment that the development application package is complete; the project was deemed complete in April 2018.

Technical Review
The City's technical review took place in late spring 2018 to analyze compliance with City policies and regulations, as well as impacts to critical areas such as wetlands. The developer has just recently responded to all the comments from the technical review committee letter, and has revised the application materials to address the City's comments and environmental concerns.

City Council Study Sessions & Public Comment
City staff provided an initial presentation to the City Council about the project on Feb. 19, 2019. The information included key information about the East Gateway Urban Village adopted illustrative master plan and Design Guidelines.

The Council held a study session about the project on Feb. 26, 2019.

A public hearing on the Development Agreement was held on March 26. The City Council voted to execute the development agreement. Now the proposal undergoes an environmental analysis, which has an additional public comment period.

SEPA Threshold Determination
SEPA stands for State Environmental Policy Act (Chapter 197‐11 Washington Administrative Code (WAC)). SEPA was designed to ensure that:
  • Environmental impacts are considered during the decision making process by state and local agencies;
  • Adequate and timely environmental information is gathered and provided to decision makers;
  • Public involvement is included in the decision making process.
SEPA requires the identification and evaluation of probable impacts to all elements of the built and natural environment. The City issued the SEPA threshold determination on April 19, 2019, and the appeal period expired on May 3, 2019.  No appeals were submitted.

Public Hearing on Binding Site Plan
A public hearing before the Hearing Examiner was held on May 23, 2019, at 6:00 p.m.  The hearing is advertised 10 days in advance of the date it is held, during which time the public can submit comments to the hearing examiner for consideration.

As noted above, the public has many opportunities throughout the review schedule to provide input on the project. The City welcomes such input and feedback because an engaged community helps ensure that development reflects the character for which Mill Creek is known.

Project Revenue Projection Based on Zoning Code and Proposal
Revenue projected by the Farm Developers Fiscal Impact Analysis prepared by Integra Realty Resources in March 2019, indicates that the proposed development would generate over $499,000 in annual ongoing tax revenues (property tax and sales taxes) and over $980,000 of one-time construction-related taxes (sales taxes).

City staff will be evaluating any operational expenses associated with extending City services to the Farm Development.

A rendering of the project as of February 2019

East Gateway Urban Village

Many residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the East Gateway Urban Village (EGUV) were involved in the original planning and visioning for the EGUV in 2007-2008. The EGUV is 52 acres south of 132nd between 35th Avenue SE and Seattle Hill Road that is zoned for a mixed-use urban village and is planned to be developed with a combination of residential, retail, and office consistent with the adopted illustrative master plan and Design Guidelines.