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Residents share opinions about Freeland Hill

Freeland Hill rises in Freeland behind the public library. Freeland Hill is at the center of South End residents
Freeland Hill rises in Freeland behind the public library. Freeland Hill is at the center of South End residents' concerns over zoning within Freeland's growth plan approval process.
— image credit: Spencer Webster

FREELAND — Freeland Hill’s forest-covered acres should be protected, some South End residents told county planning commissioners during last week’s public hearing on Freeland’s growth plan.

While other topics were discussed, by far the most popular comments concerned the two 10-acre wooded parcels that are visible behind the public library.

From protecting the environment to reducing traffic and development, a handful of folks shared their opinions about Freeland Hill and why the 20 acres should be zoned “rural” and spared from high-density housing projects.

Ann Pringle said the health of Holmes Harbor was at stake, and said the hill should remain in a rural state.

“The area should be sparsely built,” she said. “Freeland Hill is a visible landmark in Freeland and its forested ridge dominates the skyline to the east above Freeland’s harbor. It greatly enhances the beauty of our surroundings and is also one of the last remaining refuges for wildlife habitat in our closed-in area.”

Art Peterson said development might damage the cliff at Freeland Hill and lead to the loss of trees.

Bill Frederick said that zoning should remain as-is in other areas of Freeland as well.

“I support keeping light residential density because I used to work with surface water management in King County,” he said. “When you take the trees down, the problems begin.”

For Mitch Streicher, who has spearheaded a petition drive to keep Freeland Hill zoning densities low, the projected population of Freeland is high enough already for urban density. Freeland’s growth plan does not need additional residences to meet that goal, he said.

The growth plan predicts a future population of 4,969.

“Even if you remove all 90 units off Freeland Hill, you still have much more than the 4,000 Freeland capacity required,” he said.

While most people concentrated on zoning regulations, one resident said the Freeland Sub-Area Planning Committee should consider a novel approach to preserving the beauty of Freeland Hill.

“I think Freeland Hill would be a great place for a natural park,” said Don Lamontagne.

“The future of Freeland belongs to the young. Give them a place to play. Give them a park to walk in,” he said.

Spencer Webster can be reached at 221-5300 or at swebster@southwhidbeyrecord.com

Community Events, April 2014

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