Langley extends building moratorium, moves on stormwater rate increases

A six-month extension of the city’s moratorium on subdivisions was approved, and increases in stormwater utility rates moved one step closer to adoption at Monday night’s Langley City Council meeting.

“I’m confident this will be the final extension,” Langley Planning Director Larry Cort said of the moratorium. “We’re close enough to see the finish line.”

The ban against subdividing land was first approved in June 2007 for one year, then extended in June 2008 and again in December 2008.

It prohibits new subdivisions in the city’s RS-7,200 and RS-15,000 zoning districts, the areas of town where medium- and low-density housing development is allowed.

Mainly affected are properties in the area of Al Anderson Avenue, Edgecliff and Saratoga roads.

The moratorium was imposed pending wholesale changes to the city’s comprehensive plan, the document that will guide the city’s growth in the next two decades.

City planning officials say more work must be done on the building regulations so they mesh with the plan.

“It’s important to do this right,” Mayor Paul Samuelson said.

Cort said that thanks in part to the state of the economy, no one is pressing the city for permission to subdivide.

“We don’t have anybody ready to submit when we’re ready to go,” he said.

Meanwhile, residents will see a big jump in the city’s stormwater utility rates starting in July, as the council approved first reading of an ordinance calling for a series of increases over five years.

Final passage of the rate increases is expected at the council’s next meeting, June 15.

“This will give us what we need,” Councilman Jim Recupero said. “We should have done it a long time ago.”

The first rate hike increases the monthly charge for single-family homes by $10.60, up to $13.50.

The plan to raise stormwater utility rates would help pay for maintenance, operation and debt service of the current system. In future years, increases will help pay for new stormwater infrastructure projects.

Under the five-year plan, the city would begin to build up funds for stormwater infrastructure projects next year. Monthly rates would continue to climb, with single-family increases of

$4.10 in 2010 and 2011, followed by increases of $1 in 2012 and 2013.

City officials say the increases are unavoidable. Residential rates need to be raised from the current $2.90 per month to $13.49 just to break even.

The new rates for 2010 would take effect on Jan. 1 and would be reflected on bills that are sent out in March.

Other utility customers would also see corresponding rate increases. Multi-family residential rates increase from $3.50 to

$16.31 this year, developed commercial rates from $4 to $18.64 and primary residential-commercial rates from $2.90 to $13.50.

In 2010, those rates would be $21.27, $24.31 and

$17.60 respectively.

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