Comprehensive Plan Amendments
As required by the Washington’s Growth Management Act, Pierce County’s Comprehensive Plan sets the direction for accommodating and directing growth and development in unincorporated portions of the County. The County’s zoning and development regulations are based on this policy document.
This year’s amendments to the Comprehensive Plan include;
- Minor changes to the urban growth area boundary
- Identifying additional areas for potential annexation
- Changes to land use policies and text
- Changes in the Land Use Designation Map
While many other issues are important in their own right, the bulk of the public attention and Council debate was on amendments designating Agricultural Resource Lands (ARL) and associated land use designation changes. Years ago, the County discovered that the current criteria for designating ARL was flawed. There was also a mapping error that resulted in 942 properties and more than 11,000 acres that had been designated ARL without meeting anyone’s standard for prime agriculture lands.
As a result, the Council commissioned a study known as Fresh Look in 2016. I proposed an amendment based on the Fresh Look proposal with a few adjustments to remove public lands (parks, schools, etc.) and forest and mineral resource lands. This amendment would result in 22,392 acres of ARL. You can read more on this issue in my blog post here. Unfortunately my amendment failed on a 3-4 vote.
Despite deep division on this ARL issue, the Council passed Ordinance 2017-6s on a 6-1 vote, adopting the 2017 Comprehensive Plan amendments.
However, the Executive has now vetoed the bill specifically over the ARL issue, so I will be reintroducing it soon.