Comp plan indicates city of Mabton has much to do to prepare for the future

MABTON - From the air overhead to the soil underfoot, the city of Mabton's comprehensive plan is now on the books.

The Mabton City Council approved the 200-plus page document last week. Comp plans as they are known, are mandated by the state's growth management legislation.

While the city's geography and natural resources are unchanged from the last comp plan passed earlier last decade, the new comp plan does address changes the city has experienced over the past decade or so.

The comp plan, for example, shows that Mabton's population growth is nearly double that of the rest of Yakima County. As of 2008, the county showed population growth of nearly 6 percent from 2000, while Mabton's was at 10.3 percent. The rate reflects a population increase from 1,891 in 2000 to 2,085 in 2008.

Looking ahead, the comp plan predicts Mabton's population to reach upwards to 2,500 by the end of the new decade.

By contrast, the plan reflects that Mabton's commercial activity is lagging the uptick in population. Businesses predicted to most likely succeed are convenience stores, gas stations, as well as both family restaurants and fast food outlets.

A potential future issue for Mabton, according to the report, is that prospective developers may not be able to find sufficient land within the city limits for new housing and/or businesses. As a result, the city's unincorporated urban growth may see more development.

The comp plan estimates that an additional 170 housing units will need to be added in Mabton within the next 15 years.

Along these lines, the comp plan asks Mabton city officials to consider the following questions over the next decade:

• If the city desires more growth than what is projected, what land use decisions will promote both the amount and type of growth that the city is seeking?

• What land use patterns are consistent with the city's vision for economic development?

• What areas have the most capacity for development, in terms of the availability of water, sewer, and roads? What areas are currently experiencing development pressures?

• Should the city encourage or discourage the conversion of agricultural land to other uses in the unincorporated portion of the urban growth area?

• How can the city encourage the construction of housing that will support an economically diverse community?

The comp plan projects that the answers to those questions will likely have to recognize that Mabton needs to develop at least an additional 71 acres within the next 15 years to address a growing need for more housing.

Other future needs forecasted include expanding street widths, sidewalks and a regularly scheduled sealcoating program for its roads.

In particular, the comp plan notes that Mabton's lack of aggressive road maintenance can lead to more expensive road costs in the future.

State grant funds and the implementation of a local improvement district are some of the funding sources the comp plan lists for consistent road improvements.

Another need noted in the comp plan is meeting the recommended requirement of 1,000 gallons of flowing water per minute for fighting fires.

Speaking of water, the comp plan reports that Mabton has "an urgent need for increased water rights." The plan continues, "Current water rights have been exceeded and are insufficient to provide for further growth."

Suggestions range from water conservation measures such as limiting lawn irrigation and revising water rates, to acquiring more water rights.

The comp plan also reflects the Department of Ecology's finding that the city's wastewater treatment plant is at capacity and needs upgrades before there can be additional hook-ups to the system.


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