After seven years, a Comprehensive Plan for the Anacortes Community Forest Lands will soon reach the City Council for possible approval.

Parks and Recreation Director Jonn Lunsford told the council that the plan has seen few changes in the decades it has been around, but it lays out a goal for updates to occur every five years.

“We’re going to try to do a little better job of that,” he said.

Parks staff completed the plan in October 2014 and the Forest Advisory Board approved it the following December. It was brought to Council at the time along with the parks plan, but the council wanted to review them separately.

“Then all kinds of things started getting on the Council docket, like the Critical Areas Ordinance update and other important things so it just takes a little while for us to get there in the queue, but here we are,” Lunsford said.

Discussions about the plan also occurred in 2019, but the pandemic delayed city business.

Councilmember Carolyn Moulton was a member of the Forest Advisory Board at the time the plan was drafted.

“I would like to give it another quick read, but I think it would be great if it came forward as is,” she said. “There are things that will come up that will need to be addressed.”

Councilmember Christine Cleland–McGrath said, “If we need to make modifications, we are allowed to. We need to use that tool both with the planning department and in this situation more often so we do get our plans approved in a timely manner and they don’t continue on two, three, five, seven years beyond.”

Brian Wetcher, who said he has been involved in the development of the plan, told the council during public comment that “this plan you have in front of you is probably the most vetted comprehensive land-use plan that the city has ever seen.”

He noted that the deadline for another update is due soon. “You can’t update a plan until you’ve approved a plan,” he said.

Some proposed changes in the plan include:

• Dog walkers will be removed as a user group with representation on the ACFL Trail Committee.

• Areas where dogs may be able to go off leash will be researched.

• When manual removal of algae is not possible, chemical herbicide may be used.

Lunsford said the plan that reaches Council could include a clause classifying eBikes as a separate user group.

Councilmember Anthony Young said he was concerned that a restriction on eBikes might leave out a large portion of elderly residents from accessing parts of the forest lands.

Sara Holahan, a resident near Heart Lake, said she was concerned about the city working from input submitted in 2016. “As we know, quite of things have changed climate-wise,” she said.

The plan will come before a future council meeting for discussion and possible approval.

City Council news

• Emily Schuh, administration services director, reported there have been 33 new city fiber customers in the last month. Access Anacortes now has 40% of the market share, which is above the 35% goal for the year. There are 85 more orders in the current service area. Construction has begun in the West End and will continue into 2022.

• The Council approved the $195,712 purchase of Sensus Water Meter Software, which could allow the city to detect and notify when water costumers have leaks. It will also allow meter information to be collected by stationary antennas, rather than the antennas of city trucks which must drive past the meters. Brian McDaniels, Water Systems Manager, estimates the technology will save the city $70,000 a year.

•The Council approved a $605,972 contract with Trinity Contractors to complete phase two of the Grand View Cemetery expansion, which includes road work, landscaping and irrigation on five of the cemetery’s 11 acres.

•The Council approved a $109,085 contract with WatchGuard Video for body cameras for the Anacortes Police Department.

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I cover health, environment, business and more at the Anacortes American. Feel free to send me tips at qinghram [at] goanacortes.com.

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