Langley UGA and Island County Presentation

Last week, Island County planners gave an informative presentation, in city council chambers, about the future of Langley’s Urban Growth Area (UGA). During the presentation, Island County Planners presented their case with population and employment projections, which show our current UGA as being exceptionally large. Further, they provided information highlighting how such a large UGA could have both beneficial and adverse effects on the community and the city of Langley.

To put this discussion into context, let’s first talk about UGA’s. Urban Growth Area’s are regions outside of city limits, created to accommodate future municipal growth by requiring higher density residential and commercial development. Urban services, such as public water and sewer are to be provided to support this growth. By directing growth into urban areas, we have the ability to protect critical areas, preserve agriculture and forestry lands and in Island Counties case to maintain our rural character.

Currently, Island County planning, just as in Langley, is in the process of reviewing their Comprehensive Plan. Included in their review, is a look at UGA boundaries and any possible changes. On July 15th, our Planning Advisory Board (PAB) voted unanimously to shrink the UGA to city limits. This was the second time they had done so with the first sparking this discussion.

According to Island County projections, Langley won’t need much land to expand over the next 20 years. In fact, if projections remain, Langley will only gain 89 residents and 51 jobs by 2036. There are requirements in order to remove parcels from the UGA, but first must be requested by the city.

1.) UGA larger than necessary
2.) Public services cannot be reasonably provided
3.) Area’s not characterized by urban development
4.) Rural forest -or- Agricultural land
5.) Significantly constrained by critical area’s

During the presentation, Island County planners offered three possible options for reducing the UGA.


1.) Conform UGA to the city limits

  • Would accommodate growth but require no additional public infrastructure from the city.

2.) Remove some but not all of the parcels from the UGA

3.) Retain existing UGA.

Options two and three would require the community planning department and the city to develop a land-use plan for providing urban services within 20 years. However, parcels remaining in the UGA, if annexed by the city, can be built at urban densities making them more valuable to the land-owners.

Ultimately, the county will decide our UGA size and according to Island County Planner, Brad Johnson could happen “Sometime in the fall”.

This is intended to be a discussion and we encourage you to share your thoughts on this or any other topic pertaining to the Comprehensive Plan Update. Also, We have a regular Planning Advisory Board meeting Wednesday August 19th at 3 PM where we will continue our discussion on the economic development element in the comprehensive plan.

We look forward to hearing from you!