Editorial: Proposed housing development isn’t right for Whidbey

Most of the people who commented on a News-Times story about a large housing development proposed for the Oak Harbor area were skeptical or outright against it.

And rightfully so.

The project is way out of scale for Whidbey Island. The Wright’s Crossing project could mean from 1,000 to 1,500 new homes built over a few years.

That would house more people than those who live in the Town of Coupeville.

The proposed site is 250 acres on Monroe Landing Road, across from the Blue Fox Drive-In. The land is mostly a corn field now.

The people behind the Wright’s Crossing project — and those who support it — have their hearts in the right place.

They are trying to ease the island’s affordable housing project by building homes in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.

Many of the new Navy families coming to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island will be looking for such “starter” homes.

Scott Thompson, the principal investor, said the project wouldn’t even keep up with the demand.

But it seems doubtful that the project will be able to overcome regulatory hurdles set up by the Growth Management Act, which is meant to prevent urban sprawl.

Island County would have to allow the property into the Urban Growth Area a year after conducting an analysis that concluded the UGA does not need to be expanded.

But even if a way around the rules can be found, the project isn’t in the best interest of the community.

A sudden increase in homes for sale would impact values.

Such a concentration of homes would further snarl traffic in the area and tax city services. It would retract from the rural landscape.

City leaders should instead continue to look into creative ways to encourage developers to build affordable housing within city limits, like cutting all fees or even offering free hook-ups to city services.