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Town council locks in hotel size limit

"While a committee in Oak Harbor is begging and pleading with developers to build a giant hotel and convention center on the waterfront, the Coupeville Town Council has made sure that will never happen there.Last week, the council passed an ordinance that limits any hotels or motels built in the future to just 10 rooms. In addition, the council members approved an eight-room cap on bed and breakfast establishments in the commercial district. The limit of two rooms for bed and breakfasts in the residential district was not changed.Town Planner Larry Cort said he isn't aware of any plans to build a large hotel in Coupeville. Instead, he said the ordinance is more of a preventative measure meant to short circuit any big plans before they get started. The only hotel currently in Coupeville with more than 10 rooms is the Coupeville Inn on Penn Cove, which is located on Coveland Street. It has 24 rooms, but won't be affected by the new limit. Cort said the idea for the room cap came from Coupeville resident James Howe, who has been a regular speaker at town council meetings. At a July council meeting, Howe suggested limiting hotel size in the town. He saw a community in Maryland pretty much ruined by the proliferation of hotels that were out of scale with their surroundings, and he didn't want to see that happen in Coupeville.Unfortunately, Howe suffered a serious health problem shortly after suggesting the idea, so Cort said he wasn't able to work with him on it.Yet Cort said the idea of a size limit on hotels make sense. In historic Coupeville, architectural aesthetics are a major concern. A massive hotel or bed and breakfast simply wouldn't fit in with the scale of the town. In addition, he said the town has limited water and parking.He checked with many communities, but Cort said only Friday Harbor has any kind of limit on hotel size. He recommended a 16-room limit as a starting point for discussion, but the council members reduced it to 10.After the meeting, Cort said several of Howe's friends told him that Howe will be pleased with the ordinance. He is recuperating in an assisted care facility off the island. "

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