Mercer Island Community Facilities zoning work halted

More action to come March 10.

The Mercer Island City Council has ceased work on the ongoing Community Facilities Zoning process that started in 2018

At a Feb. 18 meeting, the council voted unanimously to end the process and also to repeal the part of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan amendments related to the Community Facilities zone.

The planning committee in January developed a three-part recommendation on the topic for the city council. (

First, the committee recommended discontinuing the Community Facilities zone, which city staff paused in the summer of 2019, citing community concern. Secondly, the committee recommended a review and update of the city’s conditional use permit (CUP) process and to pursue code amendments, related to CUP approval criteria and limitations. Finally, the committee recommended that the council consider resuming the Community Facilities Zoning process at a future date.

There was also an application in February from the Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC) and the French American School of Puget Sound (FASPS) for a code amendment different from the committee recommendation. The amendment would change development standards, such as limitations on floor area, height and lot coverage for private schools, places of worship and community clubs located in residential zoning designations throughout the Island.

On March 10, at its regular meeting, the city council will tentatively determine whether and how it will take action to amend the code in response to either the committee recommendation or the code amendment application.

The Community Facilities Zoning discussion began in 2017 when three organizations with long histories on Mercer Island were seeking to upgrade their buildings located in residential zoning. The three properties owned by the three groups sit on four different zones — two single-family residential zones, a business zone and a commercial-office zone. Some of the properties span more than one zone.

The SJCC, FASPS and Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation requested the city’s comprehensive plan be amended to create a new designation for community facilities — a Private Community Facilities Zone — that would allow for development of community facilities located in residential zones. That was approved in November 2018. The rezoning would allow the three organizations to redevelop their facilities.

More information about the Community Facility Zoning process can be found on the city’s Let’s Talk website (