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Wharf Street plan advances in Langley

A proposed ordinance fine-tuning development rules for Langley’s waterfront advanced at the Langley City Council meeting Monday night.

The council unanimously approved first reading of a Wharf Street Overlay District, which would amend the city’s municipal code to govern future development in Langley’s historic but constricted harbor area.

The changes will go into effect with passage of a second reading, scheduled for the next council meeting on Sept. 7.

The modifications were the result of more than 23 months of deliberation between city planners, the Planning Advisory Board, property owners and the public.

The area includes property along city-owned Wharf Street, which runs along the bottom of the bluff next to Cascade Avenue. Nearby are recently relocated Phil Simon Park, the Langley marina and the Nichols Brothers pier.

The area is zoned commercial, but the new rules would allow the flexibility for residential use.

The height restriction of buildings would remain at 35 feet — some property owners wanted 65 feet — but development would be allowed within the previous 50-foot setback from the bluff.

Ron Kasprisin of Langley, an architecture professor at the University of Washington who worked with city planners to come up with the plan, said the intent was to define appropriate uses for the area, then rewrite the code to fit them.

“You can’t design by zoning,” he said. “The idea is to tweak it in small parts.”

Kasprisin said the emphasis was to increase pedestrian uses closer to the waterfront, while restricting vehicle traffic to the area next to the bluff.

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