Council adopts design plan for city waterfront

After nearly a year of planning and negotiation, a concept for Langley’s waterfront is in place.

The Langley City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a Wharf Street Overlay District, which amends the city’s municipal code governing future development in Langley’s historic but constricted harbor area.

“We feel we’ve come to the best solution for all parties concerned,” said Ron Kasprisin of Langley, an architecture professor at the University of Washington who worked with city planners and property owners to come up with the plan.

The changes 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. Kasprisin said the emphasis was to increase pedestrian uses closer to the waterfront, while restricting vehicle traffic to the area next to the 110-foot bluff dropping off from Cascade Avenue.

“This was not a pie-in-the-sky kind of thing,” Kasprisin said. “There were lots and lots of studies of the individual properties.”

He said the intent was to define appropriate uses for the area, then rewrite the code to fit them.

Council members praised the effort.

“This is one of the first true examples of what we’re trying to do in Langley,” Councilman Russell Sparkman said.

City Planning Director Larry Cort concurred. “It’s a great idea to design first, then do the codes to fit the design,” he said.

Councilwoman Rene Neff said safety is the key issue in the constricted waterfront area.

“You have to look at the big picture,” she said. “It’s still a bluff. I believe we have to be very, very careful.”

Councilman Jim Recupero praised the city’s inclusionary approach to the issue.

“There’s nothing new about people listening to each other,” he said.

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