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Transportation planning

Urban holding

Urban holding (UH) is applied to lands as they are added to urban growth areas (UGAs). The Urban Holding designation assures that urban-scale development will not occur until urban services are available or the area is annexed by a city. The urban holding technique has been used by Clark County since the late 1980s.

There are currently no active proposals to remove urban holding anywhere within the County's jurisdiction. The most recent proposals are summarized below:

East Fairgrounds Urban Holding, Phase I - The Board of County Commissioners held a public hearing on November 16, 2010 to review the Planning Commission's recommendation and hear public testimony. The Planning Commission had recommended denial of the proposal to remove the Urban Holding overlay. The Board of County Commissioners voted 2-0 to keep the Urban Holding overlay in place.

The affected area includes about 270 acres that, after meeting conditions necessary to remove them from the urban holding area, will result in 240 acres zoned for business park uses and about 30 acres zoned for light industrial uses.

North Orchards Subarea Plan and Urban Holding - The Board of County Commissioners held a public hearing on October 19, 2010 to review the Planning Commission's recommendation on the proposed re-zoning and release of urban holding. The Planning Commission had recommended approval of the zoning proposal and also recommended that the Urban Holding overlay should remain in place for the properties to be re-zoned residential.

The proposal involves the release of the Urban Holding classification for three clusters of land that are north of NE 119th Street in the vicinity of SR-503. All three areas are designated Light Industrial (ML). The total area affected is approximately 113 acres. Collectively, these clusters are referred to as North Orchards Phase II.

  • Map of the North Orchards Phase II area (PDF)
  • Draft Proposal (PDF) - Staff developed a draft proposal to change some of the subject parcels to low density residential with R1-10 zoning.
  • Revised Zoning Proposal (PDF) - An open house was held on July 22 to gather public comments on the draft proposal. Following the open house, the proposal was modified based on public comments that R1-20 zoning was preferred and that re-zoning other lots in Kristen Meadows from commercial to residential use should be considered.

Battle Ground, Camas, La Center, Ridgefield, Washougal, Yacolt, and Woodland Urban Growth Areas - These areas may only undergo urban development following annexation, or with an Intergovernmental Agreement if there is an opportunity to locate a major employer and immediate annexation is not feasible.

Pleasant Valley - The Pleasant Valley area urban holding release hearing was held March 30. ORD2010-04-01 was approved by the BOCC, removing the overlay zone in the subject portion of the Vancouver UGA. 

Vancouver Urban Growth Area - The unincorporated portion of the Vancouver Urban Growth Area is divided into three subareas. Each of these areas has unique circumstances and conditions that need to be met in order to remove the urban holding overlay.

East Vancouver - The East Vancouver area includes the unincorporated lands between the city limits of Camas and Vancouver and the Fifth Plain Creek area, which is bordered by NE 192nd on the east, NE 99th to the north, NE 162nd on the west, and SR-500 to the south. In most instances, these areas may only undergo urban development following annexation.

Orchards - Urban holding was removed from properties south of NE 119th Street and at the northwest corner of SR-503 and NE 119th Street in 2006-07. The remaining lands within the Vancouver UGA north of NE 119th Street on either side of SR-503 are zoned light industrial with an urban holding overlay.

Three Creeks Special Planning Area - There are four distinct urban holding subareas in the Three Creeks area: Mill Creek, West Fairgrounds, East Fairgrounds and Pleasant Valley. The urban holding overlay designation on each of these areas may be removed upon the satisfaction of two requirements. First is the execution of a covenant prior to preliminary development approval indicating that the owner or any subsequent owner of property shall support annexation to a city, including but not limited to Battle Ground, Ridgefield, Vancouver or a newly incorporated city, that provides urban services.

The second requirement for removing urban holding is that the Board of County Commissioners must make a determination that the construction of localized critical links and intersection improvements is reasonably funded either in the county’s 6-year Transportation Improvement Program or through a development agreement. County transportation staff has identified the critical links and intersection improvements for most subareas.

Project contact

Laurie Lebowsky
(360) 397-2280 ext. 4544


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