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Fate of old Kimberly-Clark mill site up for vote

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By Noah Haglund
Herald Writer
EVERETT -- What becomes of the shuttered Kimberly-Clark mill and surrounding parts of the city's central waterfront hinges on crucial City Council votes expected Wednesday night.
The council is weighing two potential visions for the waterfront.
One option would continue to set aside the shoreline for water-dependent industry, taking advantage of the property's rare and valuable access to a deep water port and rail lines.
The other option would step away from the industrial past. Under that scenario, the 90-plus acres would become home to office parks, light manufacturing and increased public access to the water.
A hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Council Chambers, 3002 Wetmore Ave. It was continued from Dec. 19 to give council members more time to study the choices.
The vote involves the city's land-use regulations and part of its comprehensive plan. It's happening because Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark closed its Everett mill last spring. The decision to demolish the mill eliminated 700 jobs.
Kimberly-Clark has talked to several prospective buyers who have shown interest in the 66-acre site, but the company hasn't shared details because of non-disclosure agreements.
A development moratorium remains in effect for the area through mid-February.
Everett's planning commission in October unanimously recommended zoning the immediate shoreline at the old mill site for water-dependent industrial development. That option would allow development that doesn't require water access in areas farther from the shore. In council and planning discussions, it's commonly referred to as "alternative four."
That option also makes clear what industries wouldn't be welcome, including fish processing, composting and petroleum refineries.
Mayor Ray Stephanson has supported taking the city in that direction.
Another option that's gained some traction is to zone the area for business parks with more opportunities for the general public to enjoy the waterfront. Often referred to as "alternative three," it includes light industrial activities that don't require water access.
The commission had two other options to consider: keeping the area's current zoning for heavy industry and some other uses, a path Kimberly-Clark supported; or requiring mostly water-dependent and heavy industrial uses.
Everett's waterfront has been used for industry since shortly after the city was founded. Sawmills dotted the shoreline initially, but were supplanted by the 1930s by mills that focused primarily on pulp and paper manufacturing. Shipyards and commercial shipping also have been fixtures.
The industrial past left some toxic headaches. The state Department of Ecology has reached an agreement with Kimberly-Clark detailing how a cleanup plan will be prepared on upland portions of the property.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465;
Story tags » EverettPort of Everett

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