Langley expands areas of influence

"By drawing two dotted lines on a map, Langley's planning department moved the city five years into the future.Scrambling to catch up with Island County's planning effort of the past two years, the Langley City Council Wednesday approved an expanded urban growth area (UGA) and an enlarged joint planning area (JPA) that will put the city's and the county's comprehensive land use plans on the same temporal track. Mapped out, the expansions more than double the city's sphere of influence and, possibly, its eventual size.Required by the state's growth management act, the city's UGA could someday be the site of the most dense development on South Whidbey. The expansion encompasses only land that is currently considered rural. However, it could eventually be the site of new housing developments and would have to be served by Langley's sewer and water utilities.The joint planning area (JPA), which is considerably larger than the UGA, brings the neighborhoods of Seahorse Siesta and Donegal Heights within range of Langley's planning policies. The land in the JPA is still in rural Island County, but with the new designation, the county is required to consider and possibly use some of Langley's planning regulations to guide new development. Langley's City Council pushed for the JPA and the interlocal agreement that accompanied it last year to guarantee that future annexations of county land would not saddle the city with development that does not conform to city planning standards.During a discussion of the new zones Wednesday night, council member Neil Colburn did not initially hold out much hope for planning cooperation in the JPA.The JPA has traditionally meant zip, he said.Mayor Lloyd Furman reminded Colburn that this new JPA, unlike those in the past, comes with legal procedures that will ensure better city-county planning.But now we have an interlocal agreement -- if they live by it, Furman said.Neither of the new zones include Sandy Point or the Beachwood neighborhood, though their borders run along Wilkinson Road. Furman said bringing these heavily developed neighborhoods into the UGA and eventually into the city would be extremely costly, because Langley would have to extend sewer and water into both areas.We've got to keep it practical, he said.The council voted 5-0 in favor of the boundary expansions."

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