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Ebey’s Reserve design guidelines edge forward

After several years of work, new design standards for much of Central Whidbey are taking another step forward next week.

A public open house will allow residents to learn about the unified guidelines for Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. The proposed guidelines would affect the town of Coupeville along with the surrounding 17,000-acre reserve. That meeting takes place Wednesday, July 13, at 6 p.m. at the Service Alternatives conference room, 20 NW First St., Coupeville. The last public meeting concerning the design guidelines was in April.

Officials from the town of Coupeville, Island County, and the Trust Board of Ebey’s Landing have been working for two years developing the new guidelines, said Bob Pederson, Island County planning director.

The proposed guidelines would replace the county’s Historical Review Commission and Coupeville’s Design Review Board with one Historic Preservation Commission. Officials hope the new regulations will establish a more streamlined review process.

The commission would review complex projects while smaller ones will be reviewed by county, town or reserve staff.

In the 30 years since the Reserve was established, 36 historically significant structures have been lost while more than 1,000 buildings have gone up, according to a draft of the design guidelines.

The guidelines have caused controversy in past meetings. Critics feared the guidelines will negatively affect farmers’ ability to conduct business, and that the regulations were vague.

Public hearings before the Board of Island County Commissioners and the Coupeville Town Council must take place once the open house wraps up. Pederson said dates for the two hearings haven’t been set. The two elected bodies are responsible for approving the draft guidelines.

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