More volunteers join Freeland planning effort

"An overburdened bunch of volunteer planners in Freeland will receive some help in the form of even more volunteers.At the meeting of the county-appointed Freeland Subarea Planning Committee on Thursday, about 10 people in the audience volunteered to help research and write issue papers on a variety of subjects.The regular panel didn't think twice before accepting the offer, and they put Herb Hunt, who has helped in the planning process for months, in charge of coordinating the new volunteers.We're ready to go on task for you -- a large group from the general public, Hunt told the committee.Some of the volunteers are members of a new group called PROUD, which was formed to fight a gas station complex proposed for Fish Road and HIghway 5245. But others are just area citizens who want to help plan their community.Hunt said Friday that he had already met with Tom Roehl, Subarea Committee chair, and others, and agreement was reached on how to proceed with the issues paper projects. The papers will help with the writing of a comprehensive plan for the Freeland area. The plan must eventually be OK'd by the Island County commissioners.Hunt said the new volunteers, plus any others who want to join, will allow the Freeland committee to concentrated in perfecting the land use map. Simultaneously, Issue papers will be researched and written on such subjects as parking, parks, pedestrian and vehicular circulation, landscaping, buffers, and scenic corridors. If approved by the entire committee, that information will be used in writing the plan, and as support material for what's in the plan. This background will help them know the community's perceptions, Hunt said. They won't need two to four months of research.It was evident at Thursday's meeting that the nine-member Subarea committee is anxious to see some concrete results from its 18 months of effort. Motions were made to start writing an outline for the plan, and to begin detailed planning for the next general public meeting to be held in August.Member Steve Shapiro said the volunteers don't want to write the plan, but they do want early input from the Island County Planning Department, and it's time to see some meat on the bones of the plan.We'll do it, replied Phil Bakke, Island County planning director."

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