Planning / Community Development

Program Overview  |  Committees  |  Plans & Studies
Data / Information  |  Calendar  |  Resources  |  Contact Staff

Program Overview

The CWCOG, formed over 50 years ago for the purpose of studying regional and intergovernmental issues, provides a wide variety of planning services. Our dedicated team of experienced, professional planners helps communities with short-range and long-range planning services, code updates, development review services, neighborhood plans, and other services requested by our members, such as:

Document Research and Preparation

CWCOG staff facilitate, research, write and prepare long-range plans. These documents set the course for local and regional growth in order to create thriving, livable communities. Once a plan is completed or updated, a jurisdiction may become eligible to compete for federal or state grants to assist with construction and system improvements identified in these plans. Plans may include but are not limited to:

  • Long range comprehensive plans
  • Urban growth area plans
  • Park and recreation plans, including those for trails
  • Hazard mitigation plans
  • Corridor and special area plans
  • Revitalization plans

Code and Permitting Assistance

All communities require codes, permits, and regulations in order to meet federal and state requirements to implement comprehensive plans and conduct business in a fair, consistent fashion. It is sometimes impossible for smaller jurisdictions to keep up with the ever-changing laws that apply to their community. CWCOG staff specializes in these areas to aid local jurisdictions in meeting new or amended statutes. Our expertise includes:

  • Code drafting and revisions
  • Permit reviews and staff reports (subdivisions, short plats, variances, conditional use permits…)
  • Critical areas compliance and permit reviews
  • State Environmental Policy Act checklists

Other Assistance

  • Meeting facilitation
  • Community surveys
  • Public involvement
  • Needs assessments
  • Visual preference surveys

Grant Application Development

CWCOG staff is available to help identify sources of funding for almost any type of improvement project by matching your community’s needs with appropriate potential funding sources. Services include:

  • Researching the array of possible grant opportunities
  • Preparation of background data to document needs and trends
  • Independent review and critique of your proposal
  • Preparation of grant applications

Community Visualization

Visual simulation software allows GIS-based analysis and real-world 3D modeling so people can envision land use alternatives and understand potential impacts, explore options, share possibilities, and examine scenarios. By looking at a variety of angles and perspectives, including environmental, economic, and social characteristics, people with different viewpoints and backgrounds engage in collaborative and informed decision-making about their community’s future. Community VIZ turns civic innovation into everyday practice.

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Cowlitz-Wahkiakum GIS Users Group

The purpose of the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum GIS Users Group is to promote the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) within the region, including the sharing of resources and data.  Join us at our Users Group meetings.  

APA Washington Chapter: Southwest Section Board of Directors

CWCOG Staff represents Cowlitz County on the American Planning Association’s Washington Chapter’s Southwest Section’s Board of Directors.   This board is committed to promoting sound planning practices based on ethical principles to help the community improve its quality of life, realize its goals, and secure its future.

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Plans and Studies

Kelso Smart Growth Implementation Plan. The Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments (CWCOG) has been selected to receive technical assistance under EPA’s Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program. The goal of the technical assistance is to develop an economic development toolkit for the city of Kelso, Washington, focused specifically on the South Kelso neighborhood. The toolkit should not only advance economic development, but also focus on infill and redevelopment to achieve better environmental outcomes as well as address health and equity issues in the community.

The goals of this technical assistance project are to:

  • Help the city of Kelso understand how to incorporate smart growth approaches into an economic development plan for South Kelso so that efforts to increase investment and economic opportunities in the neighborhood support a broad range of community goals. These goals include infill redevelopment that can lead to better environmental outcomes, community design that promotes active transportation and provides recreation opportunities for improved resident health, and improved social equity and quality of life for existing residents.
  • Create a resource that both smart growth experts and economic development professionals with no expertise in smart growth would find credible and compelling.

Library of Documents:

Cowlitz County Hazard Mitigation Plan.  Planning assistance was provided to Cowlitz County, its municipalities and twenty special purpose districts to help update each entity’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.  The Final Draft was reviewed locally and forwarded in July, 2011 for review by FEMA staff. 

Highlands Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. CWCOG assisted the City of Longview in developing a community renewal plan for the Highlands neighborhood. This plan addressed housing, economic development, safety and public facilities.

Parks and Recreation Planning. CWCOG planners assist local municipalities in maintaining parks and recreation plans. These plans allow jurisdictions to be eligible to compete for grant funds administered by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. The following were recently updated with CWCOG assistance and are available online:

Regional Trails Plan. CWCOG prepared and maintains the Cowlitz Regional Trails Plan, which was last updated in October, 2010.  CWCOG works with Cowlitz On The Move to promote regional trail planning efforts, including creation of a virtual tour of the proposed South Cowlitz River Trail Loop and also a map/brochure of Trails in Cowlitz County that you can use to plan a local outing.

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Data & Information Services

Data Clearinghouse

CWCOG is currently collecting data products to make available to the membership and general public via the website and other channels.  The goal is to create a repository of local, state and federal resources for convenient and efficient access to a wide array of plans and data to meet the needs of our members and organizations that serve our communities.


Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

The CWCOG has been working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology for over 14 years. During this time, CWCOG staff have been collecting data and spatially referencing information for the region.  The CWCOG's GIS is made up of many complex data layers built from information gathered throughout our planning area. Such layers include:

  • street networks
  • transportation features
  • land use
  • city limits
  • critical areas
  • census information
  • zoning
  • aerial photographs

GIS is used to support CWCOG's transportation, environmental and community development planning projects. We work closely with our members to facilitate the sharing of GIS data among governmental agencies and with the public to ensure the information is accurate, up-to-date and readily available.

CWCOG can provide various GIS services, such as creating maps and data layers, analyzing data and creating geodatabase systems for local jurisdictions.  Please contact us if you are interested in this service or have any questions.  (See Contact Staff section below.)

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calendar iconThe Cowlitz-Wahkiakum GIS Users Group meets in the Cowlitz County Administration Annex meeting room at 2:00 pm on the second Tuesday of odd numbered months.


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Contact Staff

For further information, please contact us at, or call 360.577.3041.

Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments
Administration Annex
207 4th Avenue N
Kelso, WA 98626

Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

  • Melissa Taylor, Planning Manager, ext. 2575
  • Lisa Brosnan, Community Development Planner, ext. 2583
  • Matt Buchanan, Community Development Planner, ext. 2587
  • Sam Rubin, GIS, ext. 2582

Directions to our office

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