Freeland planners have a party for you

"It's not exactly a party they're planning, but they do want lots of guests to attend.Thursday night, the Freeland Subarea Planning Committee spent much of its time planning its first public open house, right down to who supplies the coffee and cookies.On Thursday, May 25, the committee's 16 months of planning work will be unveiled to the people of South Whidbey -- if only they will attend. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church.The committee has nearly finished a land use map, which shows its members' vision of the community's future growth. There are several commercial uses allowed in business areas, and several densities of residential areas, as well as one labeled industrial at the old gravel plant. It's a legally established existing use, said Phil Bakke, Island County planning director. Committee members seemed anxious for the public's view of what they've done, as there are areas they haven't agreed on themselves. For example, the Holmes Harbor Golf Course clubhouse is labeled commercial even though it's surrounded by residential areas. Committee member Pete Friedman opposed the commercial designation, but chairman Tom Roehl disagreed. Last week we said it was commercial, he said.After some discussion, Roehl concluded, Let's see what shakes out at the public meeting.Added Chuck Edwards, another committee member, Everything's open (for change.Herb Hunt, who volunteers on a subcommittee, said he's been receiving calls from people concerned about recent developments, such as the Frontier Industries lumber yard and the proposed gas station and other businesses at Fish Road. Those will likely come up at the open house, he said.Plans to publicize the open house include displaying the land use map at the library beginning next Monday and circulating flyers in the area.Audience member Isabelle Garretson said a major effort is needed to get people to attend the open house, because past planning efforts in Freeland have shown little results. People are angry, they're frustrated. They've given input over the years and nothing happened, she said. Seventy-five percent of them don't know you're here. She commended the committee members on their efforts, but said they need more publicity, including flyers. Put'em in grocery bags, she said.This Freeland plan is part of Island County's planning effort required by the state Growth Management Act. Freeland and Clinton are expected to accommodate much of the future growth on South Whidbey."

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