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Planning for growth in Black Diamond began more than a decade ago | Letter to the Editor
It’s no secret Black Diamond is expected to quadruple its current population over the next 10 to 20 years. Over 15 years ago it was determined by the state that our city is within the Urban Growth Area. The purpose of this was to help keep urban sprawl within bounds.
At that time our city had a great deal of open land. Mayor Botts, Council members Cline, Scorci, Williamson, Bowie, and I along with city administrators Jason Paulson and Rick Luther, knew we had to plan for the growth that we could see was coming. Obviously this land would not remain as is.
Our planning began more than 10 years ago. The mayor and council ultimately determined to use the concept of master planned development. We believed it would help avoid the randomness we saw in other areas. We knew we were fortunate to have open space within the city and surrounding area that allowed us to plan large areas rather than taking a piecemeal approach.
Many months were spent planning, taking community input, and studying maps of the city as well as areas to be annexed. Numerous meetings were held to keep the public informed.
It became apparent we needed additional staff to assist with this coming change to our city. In order to get the needed personnel we ultimately required the current developer to provide funds for staffing.
During the planning process the council listened to citizens who expressed a desire to have Black Diamond retain its rural character so the concept of Rural by Design was adopted. this meant our city should provide parks, residential areas, places for schools and businesses as well as a coordinated system of pedestrian oriented facilities such as trails and bike paths.
It was also important to show respect for the city’s history and design. Members of our community also believed it was important to incorporate preservation of physical characteristics, protection of surface and ground water — for people and fish — as well as preservation of open spaces. Fifty percent open space was one of our goals.
The mayor, council, and staff also recognized how important it would be to timely provide necessary facilities and infrastructure.
“Growth should pay for growth” was a theme often heard. It was a major issue. We believed existing citizens should not have to bear the burden of developer costs. I believe subsequent councils and administrations have held to this concept as well as to the open space goal.
Surrounding communities have not had the advantage we have had to plan the future of our city. We were and are fortunate to have had large tracts of open land so we have been able to determine how we want it developed. We know growth is coming to Black Diamond. Since plans have been developed to help us all make the best of this coming growth we need to know what has been done by our past representatives as well as where we are headed. These plans are available to all citizens (see Black Diamond’s home page). There have been numerous community meetings over the past several years where they have been shared. Hopefully you have seen them and have had a chance to make your views known.