— from Jim Jonassen —
As many islanders are now aware, a process to update the County’s Comprehensive Plan is underway, and a part of that is the update of the Eastsound Sub Area Plan, which includes the Eastsound Urban Growth Area. Under the State’s Growth Management Act the Eastsound Urban Growth Area is intended to accommodate a significant portion of future Orcas development growth as a strategy to preserve the island’s open space and minimize suburbanization.
The overall update of the Comprehensive Plan is being managed by the County. The recommendations for update of the Eastsound Sub Area is being led by the Eastsound Planning Review Committee, a volunteer group appointed by the County. This is not a process to encourage or accelerate growth, rather it is an opportunity to have an influence on the quality and character of inevitable change, only some of which will be a consequence of growth.
A very dedicated group of articulate volunteers created a Vision Statement, intended to capsulize a recommended direction for Eastsound planning, which will be publicly reviewed in the coming weeks.
The core of the village is a very important aspect of the future to me as a stakeholder. I want the village to maintain the best aspects of its character, and to direct change to make more of the village that good. That includes village scaled public spaces (like Eastsound Square), thoughtful architecture (like much of Main Street), in-village residences, many above commercial space and affordable units subsidized by owner incentives resulting in a living community. It includes continuity of the retail experience along North Beach and Prune Alley. It includes improvements in environmental responses such as permeable paving where paving is necessary and maintenance/restoration of swale where needed.
Notions of what not to do are relatively easy to come by. Creative ideas to influence change for the better are significantly harder to agree on. Right now we have the opportunity to influence the future of the village to come as close as it can to being worthy of the magnificent setting in which it resides.
Please engage in this.