Wright’s Crossing likely not on docket

Island County Board of Commissioners have directed long-range planning staff to exclude the application for Wright’s Crossing from the 2018 docket.

Wright’s Crossing is a proposal for a large development of single-family homes south of Oak Harbor. The docket, which outlines projects for next year, also excludes discussions about the expansion of Oak Harbor’s joint planning area, or JPA.

The commissioners viewed the city’s proposed JPA expansion as being motivated by the Wright’s Crossing proposal, which they feel is not a priority at this time.

The commissioners are scheduled to officially vote on the docket during their Nov. 7 meeting. Projects included on the docket are updating Freeland’s subarea plan, the housing element of the county’s comprehensive plan and rural lands regulations.

Commissioner Jill Johnson originally expressed support for JPA discussions with Oak Harbor. During Wednesday’s work session meeting, however, she said she was “starting to have concerns over the urgency” of the discussions.

The JPA identifies areas in which both the county and city would be involved in long-range planning. She said the city will still be able to discuss their planning needs among themselves so they can better justify an expansion of the JPA.

Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said she believes that having the JPA boundaries on the docket would create confusion about the county’s priorities for the year.

Price Johnson also said that an upcoming housing study by the Navy, updated buildable lands analyses recommendations, and the results of the housing element update, will help to guide any future discussions about Oak Harbor’s housing needs.

Price Johnson said the update to the housing element is her highest priority.

“That’s the issue that our community wants to address is what are the housing needs, how can we creatively address them and still preserve our rural character.”

The housing element of the comprehensive plan serves as a long-range guide for how the county intends to manage growth with respect to the environment, available resources and the community’s desired character. Part of the housing element update will include investigating demographics that are underserved with current available housing.

The update to Freeland’s subarea plan will provide the framework for development regulations. The county will determine criteria to determine how the non-municipal urban growth area will develop, with the intention of maintaining Freeland’s “village character.”

The meeting on Nov. 7, during which the commissioners will vote on the docket, will include a public comment period.

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