Editorial: Go easy on growth area

Oak Harbor’s citizen planners should take to heart the purpose behind the state’s Growth Management Act when deciding how much to expand the city’s urban growth boundary. Or even if it needs to be expanded at all.

The GMA was adopted more than a decade ago to help preserve Western Washington’s dwindling open spaces. This was not some left-wing conspiracy. It expressed the desire of the majority of people who live here, both in large counties like Snohomish and King, and in small counties like Island. All residents of the Puget Sound area have seen rampant urban sprawl diminish our natural surroundings. With continued rapid growth predicted for the foreseeable future, there was a real danger our children and their children would live in just another suburban environment of small lots and overburdened roads carving up what used to be beautiful countryside.

In its required response to the state Growth Management Act, Oak Harbor initially adopted a rather generous growth boundary. After all, because it has a sewer plant and piped-in water, it was expected to absorb a large portion of the entire county’s growth. For an example of how it has worked, just drive out Fort Nugent Road and see all the new housing in dense developments. Outside the boundary, the area is still rural in nature. That’s what the Growth Management Act is all about.

It is now time to update the the city’s plan and the growth boundary is being debated again. City planners say the present boundary can theoretically accommodate the future growth that is expected. It has the housing capacity for 3,392 another new residents, which is 202 more units than is predicted to be needed by the year 2025.

On paper, the boundary doesn’t have to be enlarged. But practically speaking it probably will be. Not all the land within the present boundary will be developed to its fullest extent and the population may grow faster than predicted. So planners could logically enlarge the boundary a bit to assure there is room to grow in the future.

But planners would be wise to keep the growth boundary tight. Don’t let development pour out onto our beautiful rural roads just because some property owners want to be included in the boundary for their own finanical benefit. It’s our children’s future you’re planning for, so please be careful.

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