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NINE TO WATCH IN '09 | New push for Freeland cityhood

After some quiet percolation behind the scenes, there may be another push this year to make Freeland a city.

“I think there are going to be some headlines, but I can’t say what they’re going to be yet,” said Meg Wingard, chairwoman of the Freeland City Committee.

“We’re a small group, and we’re trying to flesh out what is practical,” she said. “Pragmatic and practical, that’s our mantra. There may be some significant changes.”

After several years of community meetings, Freeland’s incorporation effort floundered last year in a flurry of paperwork and the rising cost of installing a sewer system in the downtown core. The most recent estimate was $15 million.

A Freeland Sub Area Plan was required, which delayed the incorporation effort. Island County commissioners ultimately approved a plan, only to have it challenged by local resident Mitchell Streicher, another delay that ultimately was resolved by the state in the county’s favor.

Meanwhile, Freeland also was designated a non-municipal urban growth area, meaning the county would oversee new development in the downtown area encompassed by the sub area plan.

“The county’s not set up for it,” Wingard said. “Our ultimate goal is incorporation. We believe that home rule has considerable benefits.”

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