Lowry announces grant funds for local land use planning projects

OLYMPIA -- Gov. Mike Lowry announced today that 40 local governments will benefit from about $2.8 million in state grants funds for projects that feature examination of environmental issues when land use plans are prepared.

"When communities do environmental studies as they plan for an area, they can save time and money for individual development projects that come later," Lowry said. "Environmental review that's already been done reduces costs because it doesn't need to be repeated for projects consistent with the plan. And citizens and developers won't have to wait months for environmental concerns to be resolved on each project."

He said combining environmental review and planning also helps communities that focus on economic development achieve their goals of building strong communities.

"Washington's citizens are concerned about having communities that offer access to family-wage jobs and good quality of life," Lowry added. "Streamlining community planning makes good development easier without sacrificing environmental quality."

The state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (DCTED) is awarding grant funds for 24 planning projects benefiting 40 communities. Some of the grants are for joint projects with more than one jurisdiction participating.

DCTED is awarding Anacortes $85,000 to prepare a sub-area plan that addresses how economic development can occur along with environmental protection in the Fildago Bay area. Bremerton's $40,000 grant will focus on developing a plan to revitalize the Charleston neighborhood, west of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

With its $153,000 grant Olympia will prepare a plan and an environmental impact statement for the northern portion of its downtown area. Snohomish County will use its $175,000 grant to combine environmental analysis with sub-area planning as it prepares plans in urban growth areas. Spokane County and 10 of its cities are sharing a $400,000 grant to prepare environmental impact statements for their comprehensive plans and accompanying rules.

In addition, CTED is recommending funding for these communities:

Bainbridge Island$117,000
King County$125,000
Mill Creek$135,000
Pierce County$150,000
Stevens County Small Cities Consortium $99,500

The grant funds come from the Growth Management Planning and Environmental Review Fund established last year. The Legislature enacted recommendations from the Governor's Task Force on Regulatory Reform designed to better coordinate the state's land use and environmental laws. The task force's recommendations were the result of a two-year effort by a broad range of interest groups and citizens.

"These grants strengthen the effectiveness of growth management planning in the state," said Lowry. "They help communities by getting the environmental review done 'up-front' so everyone knows what's going to happen when projects come in for review."

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For more information, contact Steve Wells, Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, 360-753-2222.