Public comments taken on Clinton Gateway plan

The plan focuses on the part of Clinton closest to the ferry dock.

A plan aiming to shape the future growth of Clinton is currently seeking input from the public to move forward.

The Clinton Gateway Plan is a collaboration between the Clinton Community Council and the Island County Planning Department and addresses priorities for development in the area.

Clinton is a rural area of more intensive development, or RAID.

The plan focuses on the part of Clinton closest to the ferry dock that is currently zoned as a mix of “rural center,” meaning commercial use and “rural residential.”

Doug Hofius, president of the council, said the plan has been in the works for several years and has been much anticipated by the Clinton community.

“The plans are mostly centered around issues of public safety,” Hofius said.

These could include possible changes in zoning to improvements in the safety of roads and pedestrian crossings, to name a few things.

The goal is for the final Gateway Plan to become an amendment to the Economic Development Element of the Island County Comprehensive Plan in 2020.

The draft is currently undergoing a public comment period but could be approved as soon as the end of November or the beginning of December, Island County Planning Manager Jonathan Lange said.

He refers to it as a “plan with actionable items,” some of which could be completed in 2021.

As an example, Lange said there are requests for improvements on roads, sidewalks and crosswalks owned and maintained by the county.

The plan also calls for improvements to “traffic-calming” measures. The struggle to slow “fast-moving highway traffic” is listed as a weakness in the analysis of the Clinton Gateway.

“I think this push to get an actionable plan on the comprehensive plan is one of the goals of the county and the county commissioners,” Lange said, “and we’re hoping to get that completed by the end of this year and work on some of those items in the coming year.”

The plan contains an evaluation of a conversion of Clinton to a non-municipal urban growth area, or NMUGA.

In the evaluation, Freeland, a NMUGA, is highlighted as a model.

But Lange said he has heard some of the Clinton community is not in favor of changing the zoning in this way. If this change were desired, Clinton residents would need to appeal to the board of county commissioners.

Instead, he indicated that there may be more willingness to switch the currently zoned rural residential or rural center designations with each other.

“The thought is to do a study and look at that again and see if there’s any ability or will in the community to switch some of that over,” Lange said.

As an example, the community may not view an area designated as “rural center” to be fit for commercial development and may instead want it to be labeled as “rural residential.”

The Clinton Community Council will host a virtual meeting on the subject of the Clinton Gateway Plan. It is open to the public and is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Sept. 22.

Details on how to join the Zoom meeting can be found on the council’s website, clintoncommunitycouncil.org

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