Coupeville rezone moves past critic

A rumored development planned to go in near Whidbey General Hospital has some residents questioning a rezone of a small parcel of land.

In considering a variety of comprehensive plan amendments that have been on the back burner for four years, the Coupeville Town Council approved changing the zoning of a small piece of property on NE Third Street adjacent to the hospital next to Careage of Whidbey. The proposed zoning would change the number of homes that could be constructed from two to five. The zoning change is one of 20 proposals the Coupeville Town Council considered Tuesday night to amend the town code and comprehensive plan.

Coupeville resident Ken Pickard claimed the rezone is tied into a proposed development called Ebey’s Knoll. He said the town should withdraw the rezone proposal and let the developer start the rezone process.

“If the developer wants a rezone, then have the developer come in and apply for it,” Pickard said.

He said town staff has done a lot of work on the Ebey’s Knoll project; informal conversations have taken place, and the town engineer has reviewed the project.

Ebey’s Knoll is a planned development of “flex” townhouses. Designed for long-term residents, the townhouses could be expanded or reduced depending on the needs of the homeowner. Even though some advertising took place over the summer, the down economy appears to have stalled the project.

Town planner Larry Kwarsick said during the meeting than the developers never submitted an application for Ebey’s Knoll and the projected didn’t exist when the rezone of the property first came forward in 2005.

“It’s completely disconnected in time and in fact,” Kwarsick said, adding that the town code encourages staff to meet with potential applicants to educate them about building in Coupeville.

Council member Robert Clay called Pickard’s implication that staff and officials aren’t acting in the best interests of the town “ridiculous.”

“I’m very irritated,” Clay said, adding that staff meeting with potential builders before submitting an application of a building project is exactly what they should be doing.

In the end, the town council approved the rezone of the hospital property, with members Clay, Molly Hughes, Dianne Binder, and Jim Phay voting for the proposal and Ann Dannhauer voting against the measure.

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