City planner Libby Grage answers questions from a table of citizens at a community planning workshop, where dozens of residents discussed how the city could accommodate an expected six thousand new residents over the next 20 years.
City consultant Bob Bengford told the residents gathered Thursday night for a workshop that the city, now with about 16,000 residents, will need to accommodate an additional 5,895 residents by 2036 under current growth projections. Bengford, with Makers Architecture of Seattle, said that kind of growth means the city will need to build between 2,200 and 2,400 new housing units.
Citizens gathered around a dozen tables with city maps to discuss issues such as whether to increase density by changing zoning to allow more homes, what to do along the Fidalgo Bay waterfront as well as the commercial core of Anacortes.
Their conclusions seemed to express a strong desire for design standards to help keep the city’s current character while allowing a modest increase in density by along smaller house lots in some areas. Some tables reported opposition to allowing what’s called regional (or medium bog-box) retail in town, but perhaps allowing it along highway 20 in the south March’s Point area. In fact, the call for design standards drew applause from the group.
In general, the workshop reviewed 3 alternatives: No zoning changes; modest density increases, and greater density increases. Under the no-change alternative, an additional 2,381 new housing would be allowed. Alternate One would allow an increase of 3,076 new units and Alternative Two would allow an increase of 5,035 units.
Anticipating discussion of regional retail, a transportation planner said that a big-box store was likely to bring Oak Harbor residents into Anacortes as an alternative to driving to the Burlington-Mount Vernon area. And, he said that big box retail on highway 20 was likely to increase traffic congestion there.
Planner Bengford said the workshop’s goal was to review very early drafts of a city plan update created from the results of earlier workshops and meetings of the city’s Community Advisory Committee, which has been working for several months. Bengford said the results from Thursday’s workshop will allow Makers and the city’s Planning Department staff to move forward with a draft plan for review, possibly as early as mid-July.
The city is required by the state Growth Management Act to update it’s Comprehensive Plan by 2016. Its core purpose is to help define how Anacortes should best accommodate forecasted household and job growth, provide services, open space and recreational opportunities.
In addition to updating core element chapters of the Comprehensive Plan, the City is also updating its long range plans for transportation, sewer, stormwater management, and parks/forest lands. Portions of these plans will be integrated into the Comprehensive Plan, where appropriate.