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Oak Harbor talks shoreline tonight

How shoreline development in Oak Harbor is regulated over the next seven years will be the focus of a public meeting tonight.Hosted by city planners, the shoreline community visioning meeting begins at 6 p.m. and will be held at the Oak Harbor Library meeting room, 1000 SE Regatta Drive. The city is engaged in an effort to overhaul its shoreline master program, a planning document that regulates development on approximately 12 miles of waterfront in Oak and Crescent harbors, according to city Senior Planner Ethan Spoo.The existing program needs to be revised to include state guidelines that were adopted in 2003. They also require the document to be updated every seven years. The city has until Dec. 1, 2012, to complete the effort. Spoo said the hope for tonight's meeting is to get community feedback early in the process so that it might be incorporated into the end product, which must be reviewed and approved by the state Department of Ecology."The earlier people can get involved, the better," Spoo said.Work on the update actually began about a year ago when the city hired AHBL, a Seattle consulting firm, to create a shoreline inventory and character report. Essentially an existing uses report, Spoo said it and the entire update effort is being funded by a $125,000 grant from the Department of Ecology.Before the plan can be approved and put into effect, it must undergo significant public vetting. A shoreline advisory committee, consisting of seven members, began meeting this month and will continue to do so monthly until next year.Committee members include: Keith Fakkema, a member of the Oak Harbor Planning Commission; Helen Chatfield-Weeks, a member of the Oak Harbor Park Board; Jill Johnson, director of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce; Christon Skinner, chair of the Marina Advisory Committee; Mahmoud Abdel-Monem, a member of the Island County Planning Commission; Jennifer Meyer, community liaison for Whidbey Island Naval Air Station; and Rick Almberg, an Oak Harbor city councilman.The master program update must be reviewed by the Oak Harbor Planning Commission, the city council, and finally the Department of Ecology. Each has their own process that allows for public comment.

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