Proposal: Development a Place of Worship, with a parking lot, landscaping, and drainage improvements
Project Location: 3920 Harbour Pointe Blvd. SW
Project Number: PPR-RUP-HE-2016-001
Application: Land Use Development Reasonable Use Permit
The City of Mukilteo staff has considered the public comments received and has completed its initial review of the proposed mosque. Also, the City’s on-call wetland consultant has completed a third part review of the April 11, 2016 “Critical Area Study and Buffer Averaging Plan” submitted by the applicants. The third party review confirmed the wetland on the site is a Category IV wetland which requires a 40-foot buffer. Below you will find a summary of the public comments received and the City’s response, information about the staff review of the submitted civil plans, and more information about the third party review of the wetland report.
The City has received comments from 18 members of the public on the proposed mosque. The comments generally concerned the following topics:
- Traffic and parking
- Adequacy of the site for a place of worship
- Impact on the wetland and wildlife
- Noise created by calls to prayer
- The nature of Islam
Traffic and parking
Many of these comments regarding traffic and parking were based on a newspaper article which included a quote by a mosque supporter that they hoped the mosque would be home to 400 worshippers. The commentors questioned if enough parking was being provided and what the impact be on the already congested Harbour Pointe Boulevard/Mukilteo Speedway intersection would be if there were 400 worshippers on the site. However, in reality the proposed mosque will only be able to accommodate a maximum of 53 worshippers at one time. Given this number, a minimum of 14 parking spaces would be required. The proposal shows a 24-stall parking lot. Given the maximum number of worshippers and the prayer and service times for the mosque, the maximum impact on traffic generated by the mosque will be when the Friday afternoon services end. However, those services end at 2:30 p.m. at the latest, which is before the P.M. peak hour congestion begins and the number of trips generated by the mosque, even if all the parking lot is full and all 24 cars leave at the same time, would not decrease the level of service (the amount of delay) at the intersection. Therefore, the proposal meets parking requirements and no additional traffic mitigation will be required other than the normal traffic mitigation impact fees all new construction must pay.
Adequacy of site
The site is zoned CB(S). A mosque is a place of worship and places of worship are an outright permitted use in the CB(S) zoning district. While the site presents challenges both in buildable area and access, because the use is permitted the City may not deny a permit because the site is not an ideal location for a mosque. Currently, there is no alternative for vehicle access to the site other than from Harbour Pointe Boulevard. City staff and the applicants are researching to see if it might be possible to obtain an easement to provide a different access route. While an alternate route might be preferred, approval of the project is not contingent on the applicants securing a different access point.
Impact on the wetland and wildlife
Comments were received questioning how the mosque would be impacting the wetland on the site. Other comments mentioned wildlife, including deer, that visit the site and asked what will happen to them. The wetland on the site is a Category IV wetland which requires a 40-foot buffer. Mukilteo Municipal Code allows buffer averaging where the buffer width may be reduced by up to 50% in some areas if it is increased in other areas so the total buffer area is not decreased. The proposal calls for using buffer averaging to accommodate the driveway. The mosque building and parking lot are outside of the buffer area. The City’s on-call wetland consultant has reviewed the proposed buffer averaging plan and finds it compliant with Mukilteo code requirements. The proposal will not impact the wetland area directly at all. Impacts on the wetland buffer will be mitigated per code requirements. Wildlife that visits the wetland area will still be able to do so after the mosque is built.
Noise from calls to prayer
Conceptual drawings for the mosque show a minaret. Some people assumed the minaret would house loudspeakers to broadcast the call to prayer five times a day. The applicants say the minaret is merely an architectural feature and they do not intend to install loudspeakers there nor do they intend to broadcast calls to prayer from the site. The City intends to impose a condition of project approval that would prohibit amplified calls to prayer.
The nature of Islam
Some comments questioned whether the nature of Islam was compatible with democratic life in the United States and Mukilteo. There were comments that the City should not ignore the threat posed by Muslim extremists. Others asked what type of Islam would be practiced at the mosque, who was financing the mosque, and what will the applicants do to assure the community the mosque will be safe. Other comments suggested the mosque would attract immigrants and that they will bring with them disease and unrest. They also suggested the presence of a mosque will cause an increase in hate crimes and terrorism.
Whether or not permits are issued for the proposed mosque is a land use issue. If the proposal meets all of the relevant development regulations the City is obligated to approve the project. None of the issues related to the nature of Islam have any relevance to the land use issue so thus will not be considered in the decision about issuing a permit for this project.
City Review of Civil Plans
The City has completed its initial review of the engineering drawings, reports, and site plan for conformance with the relevant regulations. A letter has been sent to the applicants describing additional information and revisions to plans that must be submitted before the project can be approved. You can download the Request for Additional Information dated June 9, 2016.
Third Party Review of Wetland Report
The City required third party review of the Wetland Critical Area Study and Buffer Averaging Plan by the City’s on-call wetland consultant. The cost of the review was paid for by the applicant. That review has been completed and it concurs with the report submitted by the applicants. It agrees that the wetland on site is a Category IV requiring a 40-foot buffer. The review also found the buffer averaging and mitigation plan is compliant with Mukilteo Municipal Code, although there were some recommendations to modify some parts of the mitigation plan. You can download the Third Party Wetland Report Review dated June 13, 2016.
The City of Mukilteo has received an application from the Islamic Center of Mukilteo for the construction of a house of worship in Harbour Pointe. City staff have received several inquiries about the status of this project and this page is intended to provide basic information on the project, permitting process, and opportunities for public comment.
The City welcomes people from every faith to live, work and visit Mukilteo. We have a long-standing commitment to help our residents build a sense of community through civic and faith-based organizations. Our city code and development regulations recognize the value of houses of worship to our community and provide a process to permit and build these community institutions in Mukilteo. City staff strive to work with every land use applicant to understand and follow our laws, regulations and policies—we believe that it’s good customer service.
As the City reviews applications to build houses of worship, we treat them the same as all other applications, everyone has to follow the same code and regulations. The City’s commitment to respect all faiths isn’t just our values, it is also what the Constitution and the law require. The City is legally prohibited from rejecting a lawful permit application on the basis of the sect or creed of the applicant. If the City were to deny a permit on the basis of a particular sect or creed, this would violate the U.S. Constitution and federal law, the state constitution and state law, as well as Mukilteo Municipal Code. The applicant could challenge the decision in federal and state court, and would be entitled to monetary damages against the City if they prevailed.
As the City reviews this application, we welcome public comments about the proposal and its potential impacts on our community. Initially, City staff determined that a public hearing would be required for this application, due to potential impacts on the wetland buffer. Based on further review of information submitted by the applicant, because it appears at no point will the required wetland buffer have to be reduced by more than 50%, a public hearing may not be required.
There will still be ample opportunity for public comment. Interested residents can contact the City by telephone, email or in writing to share comments or concerns about the project. There will be a formal public comment period beginning on Friday, April 22, 2016 and open for four weeks. These comments will be considered as the City evaluates the application and makes a decision.
Below you will find more detailed information about the project. If you are interested in submitting a comment, City staff encourage you to learn more about the project. While residents are encouraged to share any thoughts about the project, City staff cannot consider the particular religion, sect or creed of the project applicants in making a decision about the permit application.
The proposed project is a 3,796-square-foot 2-story mosque. The building will have an assembly/prayer area, multi-purpose room, 2 offices, a kitchen, restrooms, and 2 classrooms. The project includes site improvements such as a storm drainage, water and sanitary sewer utilities, parking lot, landscaping, and wetland buffer enhancements. Frontage improvements (curb, gutter, and sidewalk) will not be required because the City of Mukilteo is in the process of designing a project to widen Harbour Pointe Boulevard between Mukilteo Speedway and about 700 feet west of Cyrus Way, that will include improvements in front of the proposed mosque site. However, the applicant will be required to dedicate 10-20 of its frontage to accommodate the right-of-way improvements.
- Address: 3920 Harbour Pointe Blvd. (immediately west of the Bank of America on Harbour Pointe Blvd./Mukilteo Speedway)
- Lot Size: 34,837 square feet
- Zoning District: CB(S) – Community Business South
- Comprehensive Plan Designation – Commercial
- Current Land Use: Vacant
- Proposed Land Use: Place of Worship
- Place of Worship means an establishment, the principal purpose of which is religious worship and for which the principal building or other structure contains the sanctuary or principal place of worship, and including accessory uses in the main building or in separate buildings or structures, including Sunday school rooms and religious education classrooms, assembly rooms, kitchen, library room or reading room, recreation hall, a one-family dwelling unit and residences on the site for nuns and clergy, but excluding facilities for training for religious orders’ per Mukilteo Municipal Code 17.08.Definitions
- Building Footprint: 1,878 square foot
- Floor Area of Building: 3,976 square feet
- Height of Building: 35′ 8-1/2″
- Total Parking Spaces: 25 Spaces Provided
A wetland is located in the northwest corner of the site. Mukilteo Municipal Code (MMC) requires wetlands to be protected by buffers surrounding the wetland. The size of the buffer is determined mainly by the category of the wetland. While the proposed mosque and parking lot will not be located in the required buffer, a driveway/sidewalk to provide vehicle/pedestrian access to the mosque from Harbour Pointe Boulevard will be partially located in the buffer area. When strict application of wetland regulations makes a lot unbuildable the lot is considered to be a “reasonable use lot” meaning the regulations may be relaxed to allow development of the site in a manner that minimizes negative impacts on the wetland (See MMC 17.52.025). Reasonable use provisions allow reduction of the width of the buffer to allow development of a site. If a reduction in the buffer width of more than 50% is necessary than a variance process before the City of Mukilteo’s Hearing Examiner is required, which includes a public hearing. If the reduction needed is than 25%-50% an administrative process is used (See MMC 17.52.025.C.3).
The applicant originally submitted a Critical Area Study and Buffer Mitigation Plan (4-15-14). That report categorized the wetland as a Type III with a 75-foot buffer requiring a buffer reduction of more than 50%. Subsequent to that date, the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) revised its wetland rating system and buffer requirements. In January 2016 the City of Mukilteo updated its wetland regulations to reflect the DOE’s new system. The applicant was told they must submit a revised study and plan to reflect the new rules. That revised plan, Critical Area Study and Buffer Averaging Plan (4-11-16) rated the wetland as a Type IV with a 40-foot buffer requiring a buffer reduction of 50%. That report is being analyzed by staff. If staff finds its findings valid then no public hearing will be required to allow a reduction in the buffer width.
Project Review Process:
- Application Submitted: March 11, 2016
- Application Status Notification – Complete (3-21-16)
- Notice of Application (issued 4-22-16)
- Public Comment Period: April 22 – May 20, 2016 (comment period doubled from 2 weeks to 4 weeks due to the amount of public interest in the project)
- SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act)
- SEPA Comment Period (April 22 – May 20, 2016)
- Environmental Determination; Mitigated Determination of Nonsignificance issued Friday, June 24, 2016.
- Environmental Determination Appeal Period is 14 days after issuance of the determination – Friday July 8, 2016; appeal of determination would be heard by City of Mukilteo Hearing Examiner
- Notice of Decision
- Notice of Decision Appeal Period is 14 days after issuance of a decision; appeal of decision would be heard by City of Mukilteo Hearing Examiner
Dave Osaki, Planning Manager can be contacted by email or by phone at 425-263-8042.
To Be Added to A Parties of Interest List: Please Contact Karl Almgren at 425-263-8045 or by email.
Applicant Submittals (click on item to view):
6. Site Plan & 9. Landscape Plan
7. Building Elevation & 8. Building Floor Plan
8. Civil Construction Plans
9. Drainage Calculation and Study
10. Request for Building Frontage Improvements
12. Traffic Study & 15. Parking Analysis
13. Water and Sewer Plan
14. Geotechnical Report
15. SEPA Checklist
16. Critical Area Study and Buffer Averaging Plan (4-11-16) (April 11, 2016)
17. Critical Area Study and Buffer Mitigation Plan (4-15-14) (April 15, 2016)