The city has released a draft of the proposed 2016 Comprehensive Plan which includes myriad changes requested by citizens, business leaders and others in the community. The plan provides for an increase in population forecast for Skagit County.
The plan has been sent to the city’s Planning Commission. It was developed by Makers Architecture and Urban Design, a Seattle consultant for the city. So far, the City Council has authorized about $230,000 for Makers’ portion of the project.
The plan is a policy road map for development in the city for the next 20 years and will guide future zoning. It anticipates change and provides guidance for action to address and manage that change.
The plan takes the long range view. “A comprehensive plan takes a long‐range perspective. For this reason, guidance is intentionally general, providing broad direction, but not prescribing specific implementation measures or regulatory actions.”
The plan includes a vision statement, which says, “Anacortes is a unique, creative, vibrant and caring maritime waterfront community that supports cultural and economic diversity and vitality, balances sustainable growth with respect for our history, and protects our natural environment and public lands for future generations.”
What does the plan to? If approved, it will allow greater flexibility for residential and mixed use on much of the not underutilized property along the Fidalgo Bay waterfront. It will allow for easier development in the R-2 zone, in particular, by reducing the minimum lot size to 6,000 square feet from the current 7,500 sq. ft.
The proposal would eliminate the current density limits in the R-4 zone and possibly include density minimums. The current density limit is no more than 28 dwelling units per gross acre in the R-4 zone. But the draft, if adopted and zoning changes to implement it are approved, would allow a project to exceed the current 28 dwelling units per gross acre as long as the project complies with other regulations.
In addition to looking at land use, the new Comp Plan would allow for community design standards in areas where they are not now in place. Design standards are now in place in the central business district and much of Old Town. A goal would be to promote compatible pedestrian-oriented development that respects Anacortes’ historic character and small town scale while strengthening its unique marine identity.
Included in the Comp Plan draft are these goals::
- Land Use Pattern - Establish a development pattern consistent with the community’s vision.
- Community Design - Promote compatible pedestrian-oriented development that respects Anacortes’ historic character and small town scale while strengthening its unique marine identity.
- Historic Preservation - Protect, preserve, and celebrate Anacortes’s historic, cultural, and archeological resources.
- Resource protection & sustainable design - Maintain and enhance Anacortes’s robust environmental stewardship.
- Community Gathering Space - Preserve and develop inviting and distinctive gathering spaces, with the greatest emphasis in Downtown and commercial areas.
- Residential uses - Preserve and enhance the quality, character and function of Anacortes’s residential neighborhoods.
- Downtown and South Commercial Avenue - Enhance the character and economic vitality of Downtown and the South Commercial Avenue corridor.
- Fidalgo Bay and Guemes Channel Waterfronts - Maintain and enhance Anacortes’s waterfront as a unique and irreplaceable environmental, economic, and recreational amenity for the city.
- Industrial & Manufacturing Areas - Maintain and promote active use of industrial lands.
- Healthy Communities - Promote land use and community design that encourages healthy living and good connectivity between compatible uses.
- Growth management & regional coordination - Emphasize compact growth to minimize sprawl and protect Anacortes’s Community Forestlands.
A community workshop to review the draft is anticipated in December, with a public comment period, public meetings and public hearings starting in late 2015 and early 2016. Notices will be sent out once the meetings are scheduled.
Under terms of the state’s Growth Management Act, the updated plan would need to be approved by June 30, 2016.
Updated to correct errors in original story concerning R-4 zone.