Clinton planning process ends

"The Clinton Subarea Planning Committee eliminated itself in the Socratic way Monday night, waxing philosophical before sipping from the fatal cup of hemlock.After expressing lamentations and regrets, the committee voted 5-0 to effectively end its life after more than two years of existence. There will be a few more meetings to finalize the draft Clinton comprehensive plan, but the committee's work is effectively done.In planning parlance, the move means that Clinton will remain a RAID rather than copying Freeland and forging ahead into NMUGA territory. RAIDs (Rural Areas of Intense Development) are governed by the Island County Comprehensive Plan, while NMUGAs (Non Municipal Urban Growth Areas) have their own comprehensive plan and a local planning advisory board answerable to the county commissioners.Clinton committee members struggled to find some middle ground where a local advisory group could hold some sway over development. But Island County Planning Director Phil Bakke shot down all such thoughts.The county plan clearly defines the RAID boundaries and development standards within those boundaries, Bakke said. Changes can be made only at the county level during periodic reviews of the comprehensive plan.However, Bakke said, the county still has an interest in what Clinton residents have to say about development in their community. A citizens group would no longer be official, he said, but he'd be willing to meet with some sort of group down here . . . on a fairly regular basis.Bakke said Clinton residents couldn't stop a gas station proposed on an allowable site, for example, but they could have some say in how the facility looks through existing development regulations.Stuart Munson, a committee member, told the crowd of about 25, There will be nobody here to enforce a lot of these things people want, alluding to a list of improvements that came out of a recent visioning meeting.Munson and others warned that remaining a RAID doesn't mean Clinton won't grow, or that such things as sewer and storm drain systems can't happen. We're going to get strip malls, he said.However, it was agreed that most Clinton residents in recent meetings have been against pursuing the NMUGA status because it includes detailed planning for sewers and other infrastructure. It's crystal clear NMUGA gives impetus to accelerated growth, one man said.Because of the public sentiment, Bakke said the county would be reluctant to pay the necessary costs to pursue NMUGA planning for Clinton. Infrastructure studies for Freeland will cost about $250,000, he said.The consensus was that while a RAID won't stop growth, an NMUGA would encourage it. But Phil Moore, committee chairman in the absence of vacationing Patrick Normile, said it's utterly naive to think the RAID status will stop growth.To retain some form of existence, the committee encouraged its members and others to join the Clinton Community Forum, a citizens group that has been active in local issues.Mike Helland made the motion to remain a RAID and thus end the formal planning process. But he too encouraged people to stay involved. A lot of good things have started here; they don't have to end here, he said.Helland, Munson, Moore, Mary Jane Aurdal and Bill Stebbins were present and voted for the motion. The committee has nine members, but only five votes were needed to pass the motion. "

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