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County officials to consider changes to Moses Lake UGA

| November 17, 2021 1:05 AM

EPHRATA — Changes to the urban growth area, or UGA, included in the recently approved Moses Lake Comprehensive Plan likely will be considered by the Grant County commissioners in July 2022.

Moses Lake City Council members adopted an updated Comprehensive Plan at their Nov. 9 meeting, including revisions to the existing UGA boundaries, shrinking it in some places. The proposed plan prompted a lot of discussion before it was adopted, some of which was contentious, partly because land within the UGA is subject to different regulations than land outside it.

The city council approval starts a second process, this time at the county level. County commissioners must sign off on the Comprehensive Plan. However, Tyler Lawrence, deputy director of development services for Grant County, said the UGA boundaries are the only part of the plan commissioners can change.

City officials will submit the UGA boundary proposal to the Grant County Planning Commission. Lawrence said the application period opens in January. Applications are accepted until March 31, and the county planning commission doesn’t review them until after the deadline, Lawrence said.

In the meantime, the UGA boundaries stay where they are.

“The UGA remains as it is today,” Lawrence said.

A public comment period is part of the planning commission review, as well as a public hearing before the planning commission vote.

Lawrence said the planning commission has the option to recommend the city’s proposal, or recommend approval with some amendments. That would be unusual, but it’s an option, he said. The planning commission also could table the proposal if commissioners think there’s not enough information, although that would be unusual.

“There’s no assured outcome,” Lawrence said.

But there would have to be significant evidence the proposal was inadequate for the planning commissioners to reject it or recommend changes, he said.

The planning commission makes a recommendation to the county commission, which has the final vote. Typically the county commissioners vote on plan recommendations in July, Lawrence said.

The county commissioners also hold a public hearing before they vote on the proposal. The county commission also can reject the plan, or approve it with amendments. But that, too, would be unusual, Lawrence said.

Neither the planning commission nor the county commissioners can add land to the UGA, he said – they can reduce the UGA, but they can’t expand it.

A proposal to expand the UGA would require a new application and a new process, Lawrence said.

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