Village Expansion Discussed at Eastsound Planners Meeting

— by Maryse Sagewynd

The Eastsound Planning Review Committee (EPRC) met on Mar. 2, 2017, at the Eastsound Fire Station for its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. EPRC has a new Facebook site entitled Orcas EPRC.

County Engineer Colin Huntemer said the County Council is concerned about curb, gutter, and stormwater improvements as tied to private development and how recent amendments to land use regulation impact sidewalk construction. He said that Council did not fully realize how the new amendments actually affect projects and future development. Drainage for stormwater is not well-articulated in county code, nor is it up to date, he said.

Council is currently holding to the previous Subarea plan as it considers how it should amend county code to allow development focus. County code is silent on improvements to frontage access outside commercial core areas. Council could limit upgrades to the Eastsound commercial core, which requires an ordinance to be written, with public comment period, before being passed. Council is reluctant to amend the Subarea plan immediately. Huntemer asked, what is an alternative to rolling back sidewalk upgrades to just the commercial core? Each focus area, such as Madrona Point or Eastsound commercial core, requires its own study and solution.

At the EPRC Meeting on March 2, 2017

It will take time to hold discussions with the Orcas community to determine how far the community actually wants to extend curbs, gutters, and sidewalks outside the Eastsound commercial core. Concern was expressed as to pedestrian safety, particularly for handicap access with wheelchairs and walkers, including Enchanted Forest Road from North Beach Road to Lovers Lane, and on Lovers Lane from Main Street extending to Mount Baker Road.

EPRC will recommend that the County hire a professional urban transportation planner to help with specific streetscape concerns. Huntemer said that the only county resource available right now is a part-time public works intern currently working in Lopez Village. EPRC will write an advisory letter to County Council regarding funding for an urban transportation planner to review how public infrastructure can support the Eastsound Subarea Plan.

Huntemer said that the Prune Alley project has been slowed down because of projects on Pine and Rose Streets and the Orcas ferry landing park-and-ride. He said that there would be a need to pause the Prune Alley development in order to fund a planner and that finding funds for this and taking the time for this input would impact the Prune Alley upgrade project.

Kelly Rose, Fred Klein, and Jared Lovejoy commented on efforts of the vision statement subgroup to reach out to younger people for input. Lovejoy said that the statement will seek public feedback before submitting a finished statement to EPRC. Lovejoy said that an “educational” meeting for the subgroup will be on Mar. 18, a public feedback forum would be held on March 25th, and the statement would likely be released to the media on Mar. 31.

Erika Shook, County Development Director, said that the county is doing foundation work and a trend analysis on how fast the county population is growing, and analyzing land capacity for growth. She said that there is an Eastsound transportation plan within the County Comprehensive Plan. The county’s gathered information will be needed by EPRC for its consideration as to where the County Comprehensive Plan needs betterment and updating. EPRC’s recommendations will be given to the County Planning Department which then makes recommendations to County Council.

Shook provided the following timeline:

  • March through June 2017: Technical memoranda will address the vision update, rural vision, agriculture, and forest resource land analysis, population forecast, land use inventory, land capacity analysis, housing needs assessment, and capital facilities inventory. The Council and Planning Commission will hold briefings and hearings; stakeholders and interest groups will hold their meetings; and the general public can access progress on the county website.
  • July through September 2017: Preliminary draft goals and policies will address vision, land use, rural and resources, housing, transportation, capital facilities and utilities, and the natural environment. To this end, the Council and Planning Commission will hold briefings and work sessions and Planning Commission public hearings, which hearings will extend through January 2018. The general public will be engaged through press releases, open houses, and a survey.
  • October through January 2018: The Planning Commission will hold public hearings on the environmental review, the released Planning Commission draft review, and the PC’s recommendations. The general public will receive press releases and presentations will be given to interest groups.
  • February 2018: County Council will hold Council briefings, hearings, and will release its public hearing draft.
  • June 2018 is the actual deadline for the comprehensive plan.

In a public comment period, Joe Symons urged San Juan County citizens to personally engage in understanding how the County Comprehensive Plan does and/or does not comply with the issues and process of the Growth Management Act, and what impact the Growth Management Act and the Comp Plan have on both human community and island wildlife. He mentioned that the future statistical trajectory of population expansion and development in San Juan County is comparable to that shown in a study done on the communities of Aspen, Colorado, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. His website www.doebay.net provides information resources regarding the Comp Plan update.

Architectural drawings of proposed Outlook Inn shoreline units were presented, viewable at sanjuanco.com/DocumentCenter/View/11480. This project, to be situated on the shore side of Main Street on a disturbed area with a rock wall, will have a common area and five one-story, identical, connected units which will decrease views of the water from the street. It was mentioned that an archaeological midden exists under the site, upon which currently sits an old cabin which will be torn down. Project Designer Chris Roth also said that this individual parcel was granted special zoning specific to this parcel, 30 years ago, allowing for higher and wider build-out and solid fill of the lot, but the owners intend to keep the building outline low. Public comments will be allowed.

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