Langley building moratorium not making comeback

Councilmember Rhonda Salerno withdrew her motion for a moratorium for new development proposals.

The Langley City council member who proposed a controversial building moratorium earlier this month has put the kibosh on the topic.

At the council’s March 7 meeting, Councilmember Rhonda Salerno suggested a moratorium for new development proposals submitted under either the city’s Planned Unit Development, known as PUD, or multi-family infill provisions. She reasoned that it would give the city time to consider new standards for tree preservation, climate mitigation, affordable housing and financial and infrastructure impacts of development, as well as to reevaluate the city’s open-ended form-based code.

The proposed development near Coles Road would have been affected by the moratorium, had it passed, since its developers have not yet submitted its PUD permit application.

Public opinion on the idea was split, with at least two council members in opposition. Seeing that she wouldn’t get enough votes to pass the moratorium, Salerno decided to withdraw her motion.

Salerno revisited the topic at the council’s most recent meeting Monday night, but made no effort to revive it.

“The moratorium would not have affected any current applications and was not intended to stop or discourage any development in Langley,” she explained. “It was not put forth maliciously or as an attempt to burden developers.”

Salerno pointed out that the actions stated in the moratorium are already underway in Langley, such as inclusionary zoning, which is buoyed by a $67,000 state grant, and the various citizen-led committees that are working hard on developing affordable housing and climate mitigation requirements for new housing.

“To claim that this moratorium was intended to decrease the opportunity for affordable housing is just not true,” Salerno said. “It is also a legal and integrationist process that is a common tool used to assure that ordinances that are in process have time to be completed.”

She added that it was not her intent to create controversy or slow down the city’s progress.

“I hope we can agree to let this rest and go forward with our good work to create a sustainable, inclusive and equitable place to live,” she said.

During a presentation for the proposed Coles Valley project, Langley Director of Community Planning Meredith Penny told the council that she believes the permit application for the development will be submitted soon.

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sister publication to The Herald.

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