Coupeville town planner opts for Oak Harbor

Larry Cort, Coupeville’s land use planner for the past seven-and-a-half years, is resigning to take a senior planning position with the city of Oak Harbor.

“I’m just looking for a professional change,” Cort said. “There’s a lot of exciting things going on in Oak Harbor and I want to be a part of them.”

Cort said Thursday that he is looking forward to the planning challenges Oak Harbor offers and it will be nice to work in an office with planning colleagues. In Coupeville, he headed a one-person office.

Cort added that he has an affection for Oak Harbor since he is a 1973 graduate of Oak Harbor High School.

Cort will see a slight increase in income when he heads to Oak Harbor. As Coupeville Town Planner, Cort was earning $53,475.77 per year, but in Oak Harbor, he will make $55,320 per year.

He announced his resignation effective Aug. 1 during the Tuesday evening Town Council meeting in Coupeville.

Cort’s resignation comes as the town continues the process to amend its comprehensive plan.

The plan amendments have been a source of controversy stemming from a proposal to change the zoning of the 33-acre “Krueger Farm.”

The plan was originally brought forth last year but criticism prompted town officials to table, and eventually revise, the amendment to allow 108 units using a combination of housing types.

That plan also met with controversy when Oh Oh, Inc., a local watchdog group, appealed to the town to address water concerns they had with the plan.

And, during a recent public hearing in front of the Planning Commission, many residents criticized the revised plan and wanted to withdraw that particular amendment. Oh Oh also filed a lawsuit concerning last year’s rezone of land in front of Big Rock which will allow a commercial building to be built.

Despite the controversies revolving around zoning in town, Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard praised Cort’s performance.

“He’s a real loss to our town,” Conard said Wednesday. “He has a personal interest in the community.”

She added that she’s glad that Cort will still be residing in Coupeville even though he will be working in Oak Harbor.

In finding Cort’s replacement, Conard said that the town is going to advertise in newspapers and professional journals.

While conducting the search, the town is hiring a consultant, former Island County Public Works Director Larry Kwarsick, to fill Cort’s shoes on a part-time basis.

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