Comp Plan changes favor electric cars

March 23, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

Officials could ease rules to allow more charging stations for electric vehicles in Issaquah, as the City Council considers the latest updates to the long-term growth blueprint.

The council will consider changes to the city Comprehensive Plan next month. Besides the electric-vehicle item, the updates include items to better preserve trees and a potential development agreement with Rowley Properties. If the city and the Issaquah developer proceed with the agreement, the plan could lay the groundwork for redevelopment of almost 90 acres in Central Issaquah.

The long-discussed annexation of Klahanie will remain on the list as a placeholder item, although discussions about the neighborhood remained focused in a separate effort to allow Sammamish to take the park from cash-strapped King County.

City Council members will consider the proposed amendments April 5. The amendment process aims to synch the goals of the city administration and the council.

“We would hate to be working on something that they don’t want to think about,” city Senior Planner Trish Heinonen said.

If the council OKs the amendments — as expected — city planners will review the items during the next several months. The city Planning Policy Commission will hold a public hearing on the measures by September, and recommend the final tweaks to the Comprehensive Plan to the City Council. The council will solidify the amendments by the end of the year.

Although the proposed amendments include few sweeping changes, the electric-vehicle item could make life easier for drivers of the eco-friendly cars.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation into law last year to ease development of infrastructure to accommodate electric vehicles.

The legislation mandated certain cities, including Issaquah, to allow battery-charging stations, battery-exchange stations and other electric-vehicle infrastructure. The mandate requires development rules to be amended in Issaquah and cities alongside Interstate 90 and other major arteries.

The amendments headed to the council next month also include revisions to the city Land Use Code. The land use code focuses on everyday items, such as signage, parking or the maintenance of vacant land.

The annual process to amend the plan, zoning map and city land use code starts with a set of proposed amendments. While the city land use code can be amended at anytime, state law limits Comprehensive Plan amendments to once a year.

Other updates to the Comprehensive Plan include the annual changes for population, rezones for community property and updates to the Transportation Improvement Plan and Capital Improvement Program — the voluminous documents city officials use to prioritize projects, such as roadwork and parks improvements.

The state Growth Management Act requires the city to prepare, implement and update a comprehensive plan. Issaquah adopted its growth blueprint in 1995.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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