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Oak Harbor’s Planning task force handed work

The many volunteers in Oak Harbor’s Comprehensive Plan Task Force and planning commission have a lot of work ahead of them.

At the Tuesday council meeting, the City Council approved a long list of possible “discretionary amendments” to the Comp Plan. City planners are currently directing a major retooling of the city’s Comp Plan, which sets the policies to govern growth over the next 20 years.

Development Services Director Steve Powers said his staff gathered a list of 25 proposed amendments from citizens, staff, the task force, planning commission and City Council. Planners narrowed that list to 15 topics that “appear to be most timely, appropriate to the Comprehensive Plan and able to be accomplished in 2005.”

The topics will likely get thorough discussion. The list will go through the task force, the planning commission and then the City Council.

After some discussion Tuesday, council members decided to got along with staff’s recommendation not to include Councilman Eric Gerber’s proposed topic on the list. He wanted volunteer groups to tackle the issue of impact fees, system development fees and the amount residents pay for the cost of growth-related expansion of utilities.

Powers said this was a complex issue that the City Council should take the lead in discussing, and the Council agreed.

Other ideas that the council decided not to burden the task force with include new policies in support of public art, a long-range plan for fire protection services and a dark-skies policy.

The proposed amendment topics that made the cut are:

1. A revision of annexation policies to provide more direction for future petitioners.

2. Incorporation of “broad directions” from tourism consultant Roger Brooks’ tourism plan.

3. Establishment of a need for a design overlay district in downtown with broad goals.

4. Adoption of policies supporting a tree banking program.

5. Creation of specific policies to address revitalization of Midway Boulevard.

6. Exploration of additional policies to encourage the “undergrounding” of utilities.

7. Incorporation of goals and policies from the Storm Water and Sewer Plan currently being updated.

8. A review of sign policies.

9. Expansion of commercial zones in non-traditional areas and the Urban Growth Area.

10. Consideration of policies that support roundabouts.

11. Adoption of a policy to encourage acquisition or reservation of land for street widening or roundabouts.

12. A review of land-use policies to ensure they are consistent with Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

13. A review of storm water priorities and capital project funding.

14. Expansion of the Urban Growth Area.

15. Adoption of a policy to support annexation of unincorporated enclaves or islands of land.

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