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Port moves for more commercial land at Greenbank Farm

Months after hashing out a conservation easement to protect the Greenbank Farm, leaders from the Port of Coupeville are filing paperwork to alter the zoning of the farm to better match the conservation easement.

The Port of Coupeville held a special meeting Wednesday morning to file an amendment to alter the publicly owned farm’s Special Review District zoning to better match the changes made when the conservation easement was approved.

Jim Patton, executive director for the Port of Coupeville, noted that the change will place an addition 0.4 acres of property into commercial use. That property will make for a better footprint should the port find the money to construct a new building in the farm’s commercial area.

The port commissioners and Island County commissioners approved a conservation easement in December 2012 that protects the agriculture, recreation and environmentally sensitive lands from development. In addition, port commissioners agreed to surrender the development rights on two strips of commercial property located on either side of Wonn Road. For surrendering the development rights on most of the property at the farm, the Port of Coupeville received $335,000 in Conservation Futures Funds from Island County.

A Special Review District is a designation the county uses for areas that don’t fit under other zoning regulations. The review district spells out the rules used on such property. The Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Studies near Coupeville, which was formally the Au Sable Institute, is the only other property in Island County to have the Special Review District zoning.

If an entity wants to change the regulations of the review district, officials have to file a comprehensive plan amendment with Island County and go through a process that will take most of the year to complete. The Port of Coupeville will have to pay $5,660 to file the amendment.

An audience member attending the meeting questioned whether there will be an opportunity for public comment on the proposal.

Patton said public comment opportunities are part of the county’s approval process.

“We’re now on the same road as everybody else to change county code,” Patton said of the other amendments that might be under consideration this year with the county.

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