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Land use map takes shape in Freeland

"Committee Chairman Tom Roehl, left, talks planning as member Jerry Robillard studies a land use map before hanging it on an easel for public perusal.Jim Larsen/staff photoMaps were furled and unfurled, overlays were raised and lowered, even a few shirt sleeves were rolled up -- it was a busy night for the Freeland Subarea Planning Committee.Judging by the small audience Thursday night, most Freeland residents are oblivous to the planning going on around them. But the maps being scrutinized at Trinity Lutheran Church could affect residents' financial and lifestyle futures for years to come.Tentative decisions were being made on what parts of the Freeland will be designated for light industrial, business, multi-family homes, residential areas, or a mixture of some of the above. And it wasn't just in the downtown core -- the Freeland planning area crosses Highway 525 to Mutiny Bay, envelops Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, and includes Holmes Harbor Golf Course. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people live and own property in the area being planned.The nine county-appointed planners have reached the nuts and bolts of making land use designations some 14-months after being assigned the task by the Island County Commissioners.The goal Thursday wasn't to zone the community in a detailed manner -- that will come later -- but rather to give Island County Planning Director Phil Bakke a map of future land uses. Chairman Tom Roehl stood at the master map, coloring it in as members called out the preferred uses for the areas they had studied. For example, yellow means high density of 6-12 dwelling units per acre; blue means medium density, 3-6 units; and orange signifies low densities.Letters also dotted the map along with a legend explaining the meaning. BH (Highway Business), BV (Business Village), BG (Business General), BO (Business Office), suggested some of the business uses the planners envision for certain areas of Freeland.Roehl explained that the county wants the land use map so population densities can be calculated, which will give them an idea of future water and sewer demands. They can get the engineers working on it, he said.Although the public is always welcome at the Subarea Planning Committee meetings, it won't be long before they're urged to come in a well publicized information effort.Roehl said the first public open house is planned for sometime in May. Already, however, people who take the time to look can see how their property might be used in the future. The committee meets the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Trinity Luthern Church.To be placed on an email list for meeting and other information, simply send a request by e mail to Tom Roehl tjroehl@whidbey.com."

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