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"Clinton, Freeland planners find common ground"
"Volunteer planners for Freeland and Clinton gathered together for the first time since February in a meeting Monday night hosted by the South Whidbey League of Women Voters.Both communities are working with the Island County Planning Department to develop subarea plans that will guide growth for the next 20 years. The committees have been meeting regularly for almost two years, and although progress has varied, both communities are on the same track.That track in both Freeland and Clinton is toward becoming designated Non Municipal Urban Growth Areas (UGAs), which will allow city-like development within the growth areas, and requires that provisions be made for necessary infrastructure such as sewer and drainage systems.Of course, becoming a UGA is a draft idea in both areas. The public could ultimately reject it. Benefits include better infrastructure, more local control over development, and better protection for rural areas, as more development will be allowed within the UGAs. Drawbacks might include the cost of the infrastructure and who will pay, and the increased development attracted to the areas.The Freeland committee plans to hold an open house on Jan. 25 to present its ideas to the public. Clinton has no date set but also anticipates an open house soon. Eventually, the local subarea planning committees will adopt a plan to recommend to the Island County Commissioners.Much of Monday's meeting was show-and-tell, with representatives from each committee showing proposed land use designations on maps colored for each proposed use. We have even more colors than Clinton, quipped Freeland committee member Steve Shapiro.Phil Bakke, Island County planning director, had a stack of draft copies of the Clinton subarea plan to hand out, as well as draft land use designations. In both communites, the land use patterns tend to follow existing uses. Freeland produced similar documents several months ago. If the communities become UGAs, the average density will be four dwelling units per acre. The benefit, according to Clinton committee member Allen Vautier, is that there's a greater sense of community and it allows for urban services. "