Snohomish County is near completion of a nine-month study of an area east of the urban unincorporated lands adjacent to the cities of Mill Creek and Bothell. The Southwest Urban Growth Area (SWUGA) Boundary Planning Study (BPS) is a high-level study of existing land use conditions, opportunities, and constraints which can be used as a resource to inform future planning. The study reviews existing conditions, potential environmental and social implications and estimated costs of providing infrastructure and services outside the existing Urban Growth Area (UGA) under hypothetical growth scenarios, as well as one that includes no changes to current adopted land use patterns. The county is preparing for the next update to the County’s Comprehensive Plan required in 2023. Among its requirements, the update will consider whether any land use and UGA boundary amendments are required across the county to accommodate growth through 2043. Before any changes are made to the adopted Comprehensive Plan in 2023, formal steps for public input will be included, beginning in early 2021.
“Gaining a deeper understanding of the county with studies like this one, particularly in areas that have felt significant pressure from growth, is valuable,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “The data and information compiled will help us as we plan for growth in a comprehensive way, taking into account the environment, community character, and quality of life for residents.”
Snohomish County Council Chair Terry Ryan said: “I am excited about this study which will help us make good, informed decisions when we plan this area for the future.”
The study is not a plan or a proposal to change land uses, policies, or UGA boundaries. It does not presume an outcome on any proposal or comprehensive plan update process the county will consider in the future. The SWUGA BPS provides data and information that can be drawn from when considering alternatives for accommodating future growth within Snohomish County.
County Councilmember Sam Low said: “I am grateful to have an in-depth analysis contained in this study area, and particularly appreciate its emphasis on gathering and incorporating feedback from the community.”
The SWUGA BPS area was chosen for a focused study in advance of the Comprehensive Plan Update because it is adjacent to a fast-growing area where the County has seen and expects to see continued interest in expanding the UGA, particularly given its proximity to job centers in King County.
Rapid growth in the vicinity creates growth pressures for residents in the adjacent rural lands. The rural lands in the study area contain numerous salmon-bearing streams, including a large portion of the Little Bear Creek watershed, and three state highways cross the area: State Routes 9, 522 and 524.