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Burlington proceeds on comprehensive plan

August 25, 2018

BURLINGTON — The city of Burlington is moving forward with its first comprehensive plan update in 13 years.

On Thursday, Brad Johnson, senior planner with the Burlington Planning Department, updated the City Council on the plan, which will guide Burlington’s growth and development over the next two decades.

The plan takes into account a 2014 Skagit County growth study, which projects the city’s population will increase by about 3,800 in 20 years. Johnson said the study shows Burlington is able to accommodate the anticipated growth.

When it comes to employment, the city is expected to be short by about 300 jobs, according to the study. About 3,500 people are projected to need jobs, but the city is expected to be able to support about 3,200.

Those projections — generated using information from the Skagit County Auditor’s Office and data from the state Employment Security Department — are specific to Burlington’s city limits. The study did not include urban growth area outside city limits, which the city could use for development.

A Planning Commission report provides a number of suggestions on how to accommodate employment, such as creating commercial areas along Highway 20 and developing underutilized areas downtown.

Following Johnson’s update, the City Council gave the green light for the Planning Commission to start making more specific policy and regulatory changes to the plan, which the city expects to have completed by the end of the year.

In addition to employment, the city must show it can accommodate a range of housing types and densities, and that it has enough land reserved for public services.

Regulations for development in hazardous or environmentally sensitive areas — such as floodplains and wildlife habitat — are also due for an update.

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