Comprehensive Planning

Comprehensive Plan

The Lacey Comprehensive Plan is the long-term vision and plan for managing the built and natural environment in the City of Lacey. The intent of the plan is to present a clear vision for Lacey’s future over a twenty year period. The plan includes a series of documents or elements that provide a consistent policy direction relating:

  • community growth and development
  • housing
  • parks and open space
  • economic development
  • environmentally sensitive areas
  • historic preservation
  • public services
  • annexation
  • Other related issues.

These policies establish the foundation for the development and updates to Lacey’s Capital Facilities Plan, Transportation Plan and implementation ordinances. The City’s Comprehensive Plan was developed under the provisions of the State of Washington’s Growth Management Act (Chapter 365-196, WAC).

Long-Range Planning staff oversees the Comprehensive Plan update process, administers public and private comprehensive plan amendment and rezone applications through the city’s annual docketing process and ensures the city’s compliance with the State Growth Management Act, Shoreline Management Act, and State Environmental Policy Act. The Long-Range Planning Division also maintains the city’s Buildable Lands Program, coordinates annexation requests, and participates in inter-jurisdictional planning efforts.

Comprehensive Plan 2016:

Title Page, Executive Summary, Table of Contents

I.     Introduction

II.    Profile

III.   Community Vision

IV.   Planning Areas

V.    Appendices

Economic Development Element

Environmental Element

Housing Element

Utilities Element 

Plan Amendments

Comprehensive Land Use Plan Amendment

Plan concepts are expected to be given time to work and are not expected to be changed without a comprehensive consideration of all relevant issues and the implications to other elements of the Plan.  For this reason, state law provides that the Plan and all of its elements may not be amended more often than once a year.

While the Plan provides consistent guidance over the long term, it is not a static document.  From time to time it must be amended and goals and policies adjusted to address new ideas, to take advantage of new opportunities or to address identified problems.

State law requires a jurisdiction to review its Plan every 7 years to evaluate the effectiveness of its land use strategies and to determine if goals and policies have resulted in the desired outcome. Periodically Lacey undertakes a comprehensive review of all of the Plan’s elements.

In addition, Lacey provides an opportunity for citizens to request changes in the Plan. Once a year the Council and Planning Commission meet to discuss the long range work program and land use planning priorities.  During this review, applications from individuals will be considered for inclusion in the Planning Commission work program.

If you want to propose a Plan amendment the following is an explanation of the process.

Step One – Discussion with Staff

Contact a representative of the Planning Team to discuss the reason for wanting to amend the Plan. They will help you evaluate your situation and determine if an amendment to the Plan is the best option in pursuing your desired outcome.

 When proposing an amendment to the Plan, staff will also advise you as to implications of amending the Plan and potential problems or issues that may be associated with your request.  Staff will do their best to provide you with advice on the merit of an amendment request.  Because changes to the Plan are costly and take a great deal of time, it is not to anyone’s advantage to process requests that have no chance for success.

If after discussion with staff, you want to make application for amendment of the Plan the next step is to fill out an application for consideration.

Step Two – Request for Consideration

Timing: Timing for a Plan amendment is often difficult for personal schedules because state law only allows a jurisdiction to amend its Plan once a year.  For this reason, the Plan amendment schedule is inflexible and requires submittal of an application requesting consideration by the first working day of January.  The application for consideration will be reviewed at the annual joint Planning Commission/Council work-session when the Planning Commission’s work program for the year is established. The joint work-session typically will take place at the end of January or first part of February. This process is referred to as the “docketing” process.

Requesting consideration for being placed on the docket and cost: There is no cost for the first part of the process where you simply request consideration and ask to have your item placed on the work program docket. This part of the application process is designed to give applicants an opportunity to request consideration and to get a determination if the request can be put on the work program docket before you undertake the significant work and expense that is typically involved in making a full amendment application.

Council decision to include or not include and amendment request in the work program: At the joint work-session with the Planning Commission, the Council will consider the merit of your request.  This will not be a detailed review and it will only determine if your request has enough merit to justify placing the application on the work-program.  This is essentially a screening process to filter out applications that have little chance of success to avoid spending valuable time, effort and cost on requests that the Council will not approve. 

If your amendment is accepted for inclusion on the work program, a full application will be required.  The full application will require a fee to cover a portion of the costs to process and evaluate the application. 

Step 3 – Submitting a Formal Application:

Cost – The cost to submit an application for amendment of the Plan will depend on what other application requirements it might have. Usually a Plan amendment is accompanied by an amendment of the zoning map and an environmental checklist.  Please see the Planning Fees Schedule for more information.
What the application includes and requires – A Plan amendment application asks detailed questions concerning the necessity of the request and the impacts the amendment will have on the long-range development of the City.  An application will require detailed answers and often specialized information and land use data to properly evaluate the impacts of an amendment request.  Evaluation must include the implications to all other elements of the Plan.

This evaluation will usually include consideration of land resources reserved and available for the full range of land use the community will need over time.  This will also require consideration of consistency with other goals and policies pertaining to land use, housing, transportation, utilities and services.
Often an applicant will find it helpful to hire a professional that has experience in comprehensive land use planning, to help provide the necessary information to answer the questions and justify the request.  However, this is not required.

Timing – Your application will be included in the Planning Commission work program and it will be scheduled and bundled with other Plan amendments so the City Council will be able to consider all of the amendments together as required by state law.  Typically, this will involve Planning Commission review and the required public hearing between March and April, with the application bundled together with other amendments and sent to the Council in June.  Council will normally review the Planning Commission recommendations and take action in late June or July, depending upon the scope and complexity of the amendments.

Elements of the process – The main elements of the process include the opportunity for public review and the Planning Commission and City Council’s consideration.  You will get an opportunity to interact with the Planning Commission and Council when these bodies consider your application. 

Planning Commission consideration – The first part of the process involves Planning Commission review where they will hold a public hearing.  At the hearing you will have an opportunity to give a presentation about your request.  Members of the public will also be given an opportunity to comment on your application.

After the public hearing the Planning Commission will consider the application materials, staff’s recommendation and analysis, comments from other agencies and departments, all of the information submitted at the hearing and all of the public comments. Based upon consideration of this material and testimony, the Planning Commission will formulate a recommendation on your application. The recommendation is then bundled together with other Plan amendments for submittal to the City Council.

City Council consideration – When the City Council gets the recommendations on all of the proposed Plan amendments, a work-session will be held to advise Council of all of the issues that were considered and the Planning Commission’s recommendations.  This work-session will not be a formal public hearing and there is no opportunity to make a presentation.  The application will be reviewed based on the record established by the Planning Commission.

However, often at this work-session there will be an opportunity to answer questions Council members may have about your request.  For this reason it is suggested you attend the work-session.

Suggestions may be made at the work-session for refinement of developed amendments such as minor changes in specific wording. Once the amendment package is considered “ready for action” the package is taken before the City Council at a regular meeting for formal action. Council will then consider all of the various amendments and either approve or deny the proposed changes.

Changes made by Council will be advertised in the local newspaper and will take effect three days after publication.

Long Range Planning

The Planning Team works in conjunction with the public, the Planning Commission and City Council to define the vision of the community and develop land-use policy within the Comprehensive Plan and supporting development codes to establish zoning, guide development, and protect the natural environment.

State Law requires the City’s Comprehensive Plan and its various elements to be updated periodically. Long-Range Planning staff oversees the Comprehensive Plan update process, administers public and private comprehensive plan amendment and rezone applications through the city’s annual docketing process and ensures the city’s compliance with the State Growth Management Act, Shoreline Management Act, and State Environmental Policy Act. The Planning Team also maintains the City’s Buildable Lands Program, coordinates annexation requests, and participates in inter-jurisdictional planning efforts.

Urban Growth Area

Joint Planning within the Urban Growth Area

The Lacey Urban Growth Area (UGA) was established in 1988, in part, to protect County resources of agricultural, timber and environmentally sensitive areas from sprawling development. The boundaries were based primarily on what areas were already urbanized, considering developed and vested sites, current and proposed land use designations, and the Regional Sewer Phasing Plan.

Joint Plans establish a framework for Cities and Counties to manage these areas in preparation for increasing populations and changing land uses. Joint plans are a requirement of the Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA), with reviews and updates taking place (at a minimum of) every eight years. Plans establish a vision, address GMA changes, set policies for the UGA and, once adopted, make the land-use process more predictable for citizens, consistent across jurisdictions, and more seamless at the time of annexation.

Joint Plan Development

Joint Plans are developed in collaboration with community members, city and county staff, elected representatives, and other interested stakeholders. The update process includes multiple opportunities to meet with the project team, learn about the plan, connect with your neighbors, and share ideas for the future.

Within this Joint Planning Process, the City of Lacey serves as the lead agency through plan development and adoption. Once adopted, Thurston County works to maintain compatible service and development standards for these unincorporated areas consistent with the city. Until UGA incorporation, Thurston County maintains primary jurisdiction within the UGA and implements development regulations through the Thurston County land use permitting process.

Areas of Focus

This joint planning effort focuses on validating previous community goals identified within Envision Lacey and past updates, while soliciting additional feedback to help inform decision making, guide implementation, and shape community development patterns. While many decisions have yet to be determined, a few areas of focus have been identified for this update cycle. These include:

  • Understanding population and density demands on existing land uses
  • Revisions to housing type and mix within Moderate and High-Density Residential zones
  • Assess the Mixed-Use High-Density Corridor District along Martin Way
  • Expanded sewer requirements for new development
  • Review development standards of the Agriculture zoning district
  • Evaluate urban holdings within the Pleasant Glade and McAllister Geologically Sensitive Area

Plan Elements

The joint plan will serves as the primary guide for community planning and development practices within the City of Lacey UGA. Plan elements include:

  1. Community driven framework on how to coordinate and manage land uses
  2. Goals and policies to guide the joint decision-making process
  3. GIS inventories and analysis of existing land uses, availability, and development patterns
  4. Population projections and future needs assessments
  5. Zoning designations and development standards
  6. Level of service standards to accommodate anticipated growth
  7. Implementation strategy with clear actions and target objectives
  8. A public involvement processes, including timely communications with community members and elected officials through web updates, presentations and various forms of public outreach

UGA Boundaries

For the purposes of this joint planning effort, the project boundaries will encompass all City of Lacey Urban Growth Areas. Generally speaking, they extend as far north as the Puget Sound and as far south as Yelm Highway. To the east and west they are bound by the Nisqually River Valley and the City of Olympia respectively.

The areas have been strategically located to accommodate future development demands while minimizing sprawl in other portions of Thurston County. The 2016 City of Lacey Planning Areas Report goes into greater detail on the characteristics and development patterns of these areas.

In total, the City of Lacey UGA encompasses an area of 9,122 acres (14.25 square miles). The dominant land use within the UGA is residential at 81.4%. At a distant second, Lakes (Long Lake and Pattison Lake) represent 6.4% of the area, more closely followed by Open Space (Institutional, Park, and School) at 3.4%.

An estimated 35,038 people live within the City of Lacey UGA (Esri 2021). By comparison, approximately 58,180 people live in the City of Lacey (2022 OFM Estimate).

Department Contact
Ryan Andrews

Planning Manager

TEL: 360-491-5642


Community & Economic Development


phone: 360-491-5642

Monday - Friday: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

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