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Freeland Water and Sewer shelves annexation of tree farm property

FREELAND — The Freeland Water and Sewer District has shelved plans to annex 800 acres of rural land, called the Dogwood properties, near Bush Point Road. At least for the time being.

At the district’s meeting Monday, commissioners hosted a public hearing on the annexation but tabled the proposal, deflating the sails of its opponents.

With the annexation of the property off the table, the district gave itself more time to research the legal ramifications of annexing properties that are not contiguous to urban growth areas, such as those being developed in Freeland.

The district did not offer any details to those who had come to the meeting to speak — Mitch Streicher, Meg Wingard and Marianne Edain — about why it decided to remove the property from the annexation list.

The district eventually wants to extend water service to lands that will be developed in the future, said Jeff Tate, assistant director for the county planning department.

County commissioners will eventually sign off on any annexation, Tate said. For now, it’s on hold.

“We’ve received a request from the water district to ask the board of commissioners to delay their action because this large area is not contiguous to the Freeland Water District,” Tate said. “And they have asked for a delay in decision because they would like to evaluate whether a district can do that.”

The annexation was prompted after a developer requested water service from the district. The developer had planned to cluster 75 homes on 15 percent of the 800-acre annexation area, leaving 650 acres in greenbelt or forested land forever, said Nolen Knickerbocker, president of the Freeland Water and Sewer District.

Despite the legal issues, Tate said he would have preferred to see a managed water system serving homes in the area, as opposed to 80 different wells being drilled to serve new homes.

“When you have an individual well, you are essentially putting 80 different straws into the aquifer with no real good form of management,” he said.

“If you have a water entity, like a district or water system that has a reservoir and things like that, they pump at different times of the day to make sure that they are managing the aquifer resource better,” Tate said.

The Freeland Water and Sewer District comprises approximately 1,030 acres, and serves nearly 1,100 people through 430 connections.

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

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