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Property zoning changes

The land on the outskirts of Oak Harbor earmarked for future annexation will grow by about 160 acres.

The zoning designation on four Highway 20 properties changed, clearing the way for road, commercial and residential construction projects.

The city has new policies governing trees, waterfront redevelopment, roundabouts and commercial uses within residential neighborhoods.

These are among a series of major amendments to the Comprehensive Plan that the Oak Harbor City Council passed last week. Under the state’s Growth Management Act, communities must adopt and continually update Comp Plans that set land-use policies.

Under GMA, a Comp Plan has a list of goals, including encouragement of development in urban areas, reduction of sprawl, encouragement of the availability of affordable housing, encouragement of efficient transportation, promotion of economic development and retention of open space.

The City Council didn’t spend much time discussing the proposed amendments Tuesday night. City staff, volunteers, elected officials and interested citizens had already spent countless hours on the amendments. The year-long process involved analysis, discussions, public hearings and council workshops.

Community Development Director Steve Powers thanked the members of the Comprehensive Plan Task Force for working so long and hard on the amendments. After the task force, the city’s planning commission also pored through the recommendations.

The major amendment, mandated by the state, was an update of the city’s urban growth area, which is supposed to accommodate residential growth to the year 2025. Based on population projections and analysis of housing capacity in the city, the task force recommended increasing the size of the UGA by more than 160 acres. That includes a “cushion” for residential growth by more than 26 percent of anticipated need.

The council also accepted four zoning amendments as requested by owners of four properties. Councilman Paul Brewer was concerned because two of the amendments affected mobile home parks, which means there may be less affordable housing in the city.

“What are we going to do to replace them?” Brewer asked, referring to the loss of mobile homes.

Realtor George Churchill asked that a mobile home park across the highway from Best Western be zoned as C-3 community commercial. Eric and Randy Dykstra requested that the mobile home park at the corner of Highway 20 and Haga Road be zoned as high density residential, though the task force recommended a mix of high and medium density.

A couple of residents of the Dysktra property said they were concerned about traffic congestion caused by more people living there.

The council, nevertheless, passed the recommendations, along with two other sponsored recommendations. They were the Christon Skinner request to change the zoning on three parcels at the corner of Highway 20 and Whidbey Avenue from residential office to community commercial.

In addition, the so-called Knight / Fossek amendment changes the zoning on two parcels on the edge of the Safeway parking lot. The owner of the shopping center wants to build an outlet road from the parking lot to SW Eighth Avenue to lessen traffic congestion.

The council also approved a list of eight amendment to Comp Plan policies. They are:

* A policy to encourage annexation of enclaves or “islands” of county land within the city boundary.

* A policy about the look of signs.

* Support of a tree-banking program to minimize the chopping down of the city’s “urban forest” during development.

* Adoption of tourism consultant Roger Brook’s Waterfront Redevelopment, Branding and Marketing Program.

* A design overlay district for downtown.

* A policy guiding improvements to the Midway Boulevard area.

* Support of the development of standards for neighborhood commercial uses. Also, a policy directing the city to gather input from the community about whether more large commercial sites are needed.

* Addition of roundabouts to list of traffic control devices.

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