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RAID talk revived in Freeland

"The idea of remaining a RAID is alive in Freeland after some months of slumber.The Freeland Subarea Planning Committee is in its third year of working toward a community land use plan, and that work is based on the community becoming a Non Municipal Urban Growth Area (NMUGA). Otherwise, Freeland would remain a RAID, which in county planning parlance is a Rural Area of Intense Development. As a RAID, Freeland's growth would be regulated by the Island County Comprehensive Plan rather than Freeland's own plan. At least that's been the thinking to date.RAIDs have a lower base density and no requirement that planning take place for such infrastructure improvements as sewer and drainage systems.In April, the Clinton Subarea Planning Committee decided its community wanted to remain a RAID, which would result in less growth, but also less local control over growth.Last Thursday in Freeland there was tension in the air as two committee members, Steve Shapiro and Pete Friedman, started asking questions about the RAID status. They seemed to be thinking of the possibility of remaining a RAID, but didn't want to see all their planning work thrown out if that option were selected.I think I'm just going to leave, Shapiro said, if we're a RAID and all our work is gone. Friedman offered to join the walkout. Both recalled former Island County Planning Director Vince Moore as charging the committee with creating a community plan, not with committing to the NMUGA status.Chairman Tom Roehl tried to head off the discussion. We're spending way too much time on this, he said. If it stays a RAID there's no reason for all this (planning).Shapiro replied, Can we not have a plan for a RAID?Roehl didn't rule out such a plan, but predicted it would sit on a shelf collecting dust. The NMUGA status provides more funding possibilities than a RAID. You can't do anything. Where's the money going to come from? asked Roehl.Without money for infrastructure, Roehl later said, there will be no incentive to develop what he described as five-acre tracts on clay hills that aren't suitable for septic systems. RAID is rural, not residential or high density.Friedman, himself a professional planner, argued that Freeland could still have its own subarea plan and remain a RAID. It's done all over, he said.Eventually all seemed to concur that it's an unanswered question whether a community in Island County could be a RAID and still have its own plan. The ultimate answer lies with the Island County Commissioners who appointed the subarea planning committee.Shapiro was careful not to propose that Freeland remain a RAID. He supported planning on the assumption that the NMUGA would happen.My question wasn't motivated by having changed my mind, he said. But are we wasting our time?Island County has been counting on Freeland becoming a NMUGA in order to absorb more of the growth it is planning for.Also at Thursday's meeting, Freeland resident Mitch Streicher presented a petition from his East Harbor Terrace neighborhood of 32 lots asking that the area not be zoned medium density, which would allow three to six housing units per acre. Instead, the residents want to retain their present density of four units per acre.As for the long-awaited Freeland plan, area residents may see something in writing this summer. A memo to the committee from Phil Bakke, planning director, states that his staff will be preparing the plan over the next two months. June 21 is set as the tentative date for the first discussion of Freeland's comprehensive plan. "

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