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2017 Comprehensive Plan Update

Why should you be interested in the Comprehensive Plan?

In 1990, the State of Washington passed legislation creating a new framework for local land use planning and regulation, commonly referred to as the “Growth Management Act (GMA).” Within this new framework, a wide diversity of local visions for the future can be accommodated. However, the GMA established specific goals and requirements that all local comprehensive plans and development regulations are to achieve. The GMA, as amended, is found under Chapter 36.70A of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW).

The Planning Commission is completing updates to Elements of the Comprehensive Plan and is seeking public comments. The Comprehensive Plan reflects the values and needs of the community, guiding decisions related to planning, development, land uses, environmental issues, and other items. Through the process of updating this plan, public comment and data is confirmed or collected about the City’s demographics, housing, transportation facilities, utilities, facilities, etc., therefore painting a comprehensive picture of the City’s diverse resources, limitations, and needs. This public input and data can be used to help in making informed decisions that reflect the needs of the community.

The Planning Commission is seeking Public Comments on the Draft 2017 Comprehensive Plan for the May 16, 2017 meeting and future meetings. Public comments and ideas are a vital part of the planning process. The next Planning Commission meeting on May 16, 2017 will include the entire Plan with all of the edits to date; and is considered the first reading of the Plan. Additional opportunity to comment will be given through the adoption process. The Planning Commission’s meeting on June 7, 2017 will include any public comments; and the second review of Entire Plan. Final receipt of public comments will be at the Planning Commission’s Public Hearing tentatively scheduled for July 5, 2017. Please feel free to submit your comments by email,, mail to Nathan Pate, AICP, City of Leavenworth, PO Box 287, and/or stop in at 700 Highway 2, Leavenworth, WA 98826. More information can be requested at (509) 548-5275.

Additionally, Leavenworth has drafted a Public Participation Program which details the process and public outreach. Citizen participation is a valuable part of any amendment process. Comments and ideas are used throughout to help shape the changes to the Comprehensive Plan to match the goals of the residents. The Public Participation Program contains more complete information for getting your comments to the Planning Commission.

Comprehensive Plan Framework

A comprehensive plan is a guide for future land uses throughout the City. This guidance document provides a foundation for the creation of regulatory codes, such as zoning and development regulations. Each element includes a list of the goals and a set of policies to achieve these goals. The Leavenworth Comprehensive Plan includes the following Elements:

Land Use Element
The Land Use Element describes the “big picture” of how a community chooses to balance the goals of the GMA. The update may include data, tables and references with new population projections and any changes based on the Urban Growth Area review.

Housing Element
The Housing Element is an inventory and analysis of existing and projected housing needs, identifying the housing units necessary to serve the projected population. Review and update with the new Housing Needs Assessment and the population projections.

Capital Facilities Element
The Capital Facilities Element is an inventory of existing capital facilities owned by public entities, and a forecast of future needs of expanded or new facilities.

Utilities Element
The Utilities Element is an inventory of existing utilities and current capacities, addressing the future needs to accommodate for the expected population growth.

Transportation Element
The Transportation Element is an inventory of transportation services and facilities for water, air, and ground travel, including transit. One of the goals of the Element is to define existing facilities and travel levels to plan for future travel needs.

Parks and Recreation Element
The Parks and Recreation Element is an inventory of recreational facilities, activities and parks. Public recreation is a needed service and benefit to the people of Leavenworth and surrounding populations. The Parks and Recreation Element articulates the needs, and level of service, and outlines resources required to facilitate recreation opportunities and administer parks and recreation programs.

Economic Development Element
The Economic Element contains general information about the local and regional economy, and goals and policies to guide and encourage economic development and diversification. The City has recognized the importance of economic development in maintaining the stability of the local economy and quality of life.

Shoreline Master Program
The new Shoreline Master Program will be adopted by reference.

Development Regulations
Development Regulations are rules put in place to implement the Comprehensive Plan and preserve the health and safety of the population and the environment. They are developed to be consistent with State regulations and requirements.

Amendments to the zoning and other codes may be necessary; and may be processed subsequent to completion of the Comprehensive Plan amendments.

Why the update?

The 2017 periodic amendment is mandated by the State Growth Management Act, RCW 30.70A.130. The goal is to ensure that all Counties and Cities have taken into consideration changes in State law and, when applicable, changes to the communities.

The GMA requires Leavenworth to complete and adopt via legislative action the updated Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulations no later than June 30, 2017. Legislative action means the adoption by the City Council of an ordinance after receiving a recommendation from the Planning Commission after all notice and public hearing requirements are met.

GMA requires that jurisdictions use twenty-year population projections from the Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM) for comprehensive planning. These projections are developed every five years. The County and Cities have been working cooperatively to determine population projections for the 20-year planning cycle. On December 15, 2015, the Board of City Commissioners adopted Resolution 2015-112 identifying population projections to be considered during the 2017 update process.

The population projections will be used to review Urban Growth Areas (UGAs), which by definition include all incorporated cities. UGAs must allow development densities sufficient to accommodate the next twenty years of projected population and employment growth. If zoning regulations don’t authorize the densities to accommodate this growth, jurisdictions may need to increase allowed densities, expand the size of the UGAs, or both.

The next step is using the population projections to review Urban Growth Areas (UGAs), which by definition include all incorporated cities. UGAs must allow development densities sufficient to accommodate the next twenty years of projected population and employment growth. If zoning regulations don’t authorize the densities to accommodate this growth, the City may need to increase allowed densities, expand the size of the UGAs, or both.

Any changes to UGAs must be consistent with adopted “County-Wide Planning Policies.” These policies set the general framework for coordinated land use planning between the City and Cities to ensure respective comprehensive plans are consistent with each other.

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