Oak Harbor Planning Commission to continue UGA talks

The process of setting a list of Comprehensive Plan amendments for the Island County Planning Commission to consider has been unusually controversial this year.

But at the same time, Oak Harbor’s planning commission is quietly going forward with the process of picking its docket, which happens to include the same issue that’s caused a kerfuffle on the county level — a proposed resizing of the city’s Urban Growth Area.

UGA resizing was added to the city planning commission’s docket earlier this year; staff recommends continuing the discussion into 2018.

The lack of attention is likely because the city doesn’t have the authority to change the UGA, as it is the county’s responsibility. The county planning commission recommended that commissioners remove the UGA issue from the docket; commissioners signaled they will follow the recommendation.

The Wright’s Crossing developer asked the county earlier this year for a UGA expansion to accommodate property outside of city limits. A UGA is the ring of property outside the city earmarked for future annexation; the developer wants the land inside city limits so it can be zoned for a large-scale housing development.

In addition to discussions on UGA resizing, city planners recommend that the planning commission continue reviewing the parks plan and the economic development element of the comprehensive plan.

During a city planning commission meeting Tuesday, Senior Planner Cac Kamak explained that an ad hoc group looking into economic development came up with a list of ideas to improve the potential of economic development, but most of the ideas are already in the comp plan.

Still, he said, planners think it should remain on the docket to discuss ways to support the ideas.

Kamak said staff proposes adding an update of the comp plan’s housing element to the docket. The process would involve looking at housing availability and affordability, he said.

“As everybody’s aware, that has been a big conversation in the community,” he said, “and so we thought it would be appropriate to try to bring a planning approach to it.”

The planning commission completed work on the capital improvement plan and critical areas map. The board held a public hearing — at which nobody commented — and continued it until the Nov. 28 meeting.

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