Langley awarded pilot program funds

The Whidbey Island Conservation District was awarded funds to carry out a pilot “low-impact” development program for the city of Langley. The project is scheduled to last one year, beginning July 1.

Karen Lennon, administrator for the conservation district, said the district received $50,000 from the state Department of Ecology’s Direct Implementation Fund. The total cost of the project is $75,000, and the additional $25,000 will be covered by local matching funds.

The project is based on a partnership proposal between the city of Langley, the Washington State Conservation Commission and the Puget Sound Action Team, Lennon said.

The money will be used by the city for direct technical assistance on low-impact development planning and design services on a demonstration residential development site, Lennon explained.

The model project will be the Highlands, a proposed 53-unit residential subdivision to be built on a 14.57-acre lot on Anderson Road.

City planner Alice Schisel said her team is looking forward to working with the conservation district and the developers of the Highlands subdivision to determine the best combination of low-impact development measures to incorporate into the proposed development.

“Low-impact” projects are developments that treat rain runoff in non-traditional ways.

Not all of the money will go to a single project. Funds will also be used to create a new low-impact development outreach program called “Backyard Conservation.”

The program, which will be available to all Langley residents, will focus on new and existing developments.

“What’s exciting is that it’s free for landowners,” Lennon said.

WICD Engineer Tom Slocum, and a new low impact development resource planner, will implement the pilot program in partnership with the city of Langley, the Washington State Conservation Commission and the Puget Sound Action Team, Lennon said.

Mayor Neil Colburn expressed his gratitude to Lennon and the Whidbey Island Conservation District for their initiative in obtaining a grant for the LID pilot project in Langley.

“WICD’s work on this project will go a long way toward educating Langley property owners and residents about best practices for low-impact development,” Colburn said.

“If implemented throughout the city, the LID principles have the potential to reduce erosion and water damage to the bluffs while greatly increasing protection for the city’s underground water supply,” he said.

Lennon said she hopes the Langley project is just the beginning.

WICD is actively seeking funds and support for replicating the pilot project island-wide.

Last fall, the city of Langley became the first local government in the region to adopt the Puget Sound Action Team’s “Low Impact Development Technical Guidance Manual for Puget Sound” as part of its development code. Builders and developers now must integrate low-impact development into their site designs. Conventional stormwater management measures can only be used if low-impact development measures are not practical.

The city incorporated the manual by reference, rather than making item-by-item changes to the code.

“This approach gives developers maximum flexibility in selecting LID applications for their particular site conditions,” Schisel said.

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