Opinion

Editorial

"Plan by listening to what we want People live on Whidbey Island because of its rural character and that's the way they want to keep it.If elected and appointed officials and hired planners would only keep that simple fact in mind, life here would be less controversial.The latest project to kick up a fuss is a planned gas station, lube job joint, car wash and accessory business space, situated in an open pasture and probable wetland at the corner of Fish Road and Highway 525 in Freeland.If the goal of the state Growth Management Act is to preserve open space, then this doesn't look like the ideal spot for a retail complex. Yet Island County has been trying, sometimes seriously, to comply with the GMA for 10 years. And the end result of this lengthy process is that a major business project can be seriously proposed in a rural, open field with, to date, no objection from county planners or elected leaders.For this we can blame generous boundaries drawn up for the alphabet soup used in planning jargon. The Freeland RAID (Rural Area of More Intense Development) extends beyond the proposed gas station complex, all the way to Mutiny Bay. The talked-about non-municipal Urban Growth Area would likely have even larger boundaries.To date, the state through the Growth Management Hearings Board has looked askance at many of Island County's growth boundaries, ordering some cut back severely -- at least in the eyes of those who favor planning for the greatest imaginable population influx. If our leaders were truly following the will of the people, the state would be ordering LARGER, not smaller, growth boundaries.None of this tedious and expensive drawing and redrawing of boundaries would have to happen if those who represent us would do just that -- keep Island County rural, and do it by drawing growth boundaries as tightly as possible.It would be so much easier if they would only listen to the people."

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