Island County sign rule changes please Freeland

Sign rules in Island County that have been a headache for the business community for years got an overhaul before year’s end.

Following a public hearing in Coupeville last month, the Island County commissioners adopted changes to the existing regulations in a split 2-1 vote. The decision wrapped up a revision effort that began with the planning commission early last year.

Commissioner Helen Price Johnson recognized that 2012 was a busy year for both the advisory group and county planning staff and congratulated them on their efforts.

“I’ve been hearing from businesses across the island about the need for cleaning this up,” she said.

Although the hearing was sparsely attended, with just three or four members of the public in the audience, planning department officials gave an overview of the revised regulations before their adoption by the board.

According to Senior Planner Brad Johnson, most of the changes were not necessarily sweeping but did go a long way toward making the rules more understandable for the business community.

Planners created an easy-to-read table that contains all the maximum sizes and height restrictions for various industries based on type and zoning location, while also overhauling a section of definitions.

Greater opportunity for signage was created for small businesses and provisions were created that allow directional signs for agricultural-based companies or organizations, Johnson said.

Also, rules that regulate signage for Camano Gateway Village were adopted for Freeland. That was at the request of the Freeland Chamber of Commerce, which objected to the planning commission’s first draft of the rule changes.

Director Chet Ross was not at the meeting but he said in a later interview that the rules for Gateway Village would suffice until permanent and better fitting regulations for Freeland could be adopted in the future.

“We’re satisfied with this as a starting point,” Ross said.

During the meeting, Planning Director Bob Pederson told the board that much effort had been spent to address all of the most common public concerns, from the code’s lack of clarity to issues with height and size.

“We really tried to drill down on any issues that have come up over the years,” Pederson said.

Price Johnson called the revisions long sought “substantive changes” and a “major step forward” that were “greatly appreciated” by business owners.

She also noted that the proposed rules had been reviewed by the county’s legal department, twice.


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