Freeland shipyard exec voices housing need

A Nichols Brothers Boat Builders leader weighed in on the controversial North Whidbey housing project, Wright’s Crossing, this week.

Company Executive Vice President Matt Nichols testified before the Island County commissioners on Tuesday, urging the board to include the proposed development on the county’s planning and community development comprehensive plan docket.

“I have 400 people that work for me, and we need housing, there’s no question about it,” Nichols said at the meeting. He said he thought Wright’s Crossing looked like a viable solution to the affordable housing problem.

As proposed, Wrights Crossing would see the construction of up to 1,500 homes just south of Oak Harbor on Monroe Landing Road near the drive-in theater.

For the application to move forward, the land proposed for development would have to be designated as an urban growth area, or UGA, and inclusion on the Island County Planning Commission’s comprehensive plan docket is necessary for changing UGA boundaries.

The board, however, voted to exclude the application from the final docket items.

All three commissioners said there are better solutions to the affordable housing issue than the project. Commissioner Helen Price Johnson also said that the items they did choose to include are a higher priority to her, especially the update to Freeland’s subarea plan.

The items the commissioners chose to include are updates to the housing element of the comprehensive plan, rural lands regulations and Freeland’s regulations and subarea plan.

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