Auburn taking charge to develop electric stations

As more electric cars and trucks hit the roads, their owners will need places equipped to charge them.

As more electric cars and trucks hit the roads, their owners will need places equipped to charge them.

Today, electric vehicles looking for stations must seek them elsewhere than Auburn. Those located in residential homes are for private use.

But this week, the City Council adopted an ordinance that allows for the development here of battery charging stations, rapid charging stations and battery exchange stations, making Auburn a possible stopping place for cars and trucks needing a jolt of juice.

At a meeting of the Public Works Committee earlier Monday afternoon, Councilwoman Virginia Haugen expressed her desire for more information on the subject.

“Certainly, we can come back to the proposal and add to it,” said senior planner Hillary Taylor.

City leaders had no choice but to approve the ordinance — state law passed in 2009 said that by July 1, 2011, impacted cities allow this infrastructure in all areas except those zoned for residential or resource use or critical areas.

Lawmakers also required the Washington State Department of Commerce and the Puget Sound Regional Council to work together and provide technical guidance to the cities affected by the new laws. The two agencies worked together to create a guidebook and model ordinance.

City staff used the guidebook and model ordinance to create amendments that will permit infrastructure as an allowed use in all zoning districts.

According to the ordinance, most of the recharging for private electric vehicles will be done in residential settings, in residential zones and some resource areas or critical areas, so it makes sense to allow the infrastructure in those areas. And because businesses in resource areas and in some critical areas may also want to install the infrastructure, allowing it in those areas also makes sense.

The City issued a Determination of Non Significance for the proposed amendments April 4, with no comments or appeals filed. The Planning Commission held a public hearing May 3 and recommended approval.

The amendments include definitions of accessible electric vehicle charging stations, battery charging stations, appropriate signage and parking for stations.