Island County wins 3 planning awards

Island County has been honored by three Governor’s Smart Communities Awards for excellence in planning. The awards recognize achievements by local leaders who promote smart growth planning and projects that contribute to thriving communities, a prosperous economy, and sustainable infrastructure. 

In response to public input, Island County prepared rural lands regulatory updates that found a balance among economic development, long-term commercial viability of resource lands, impacts to surrounding property owners and rural character.

Island County is the first community to win two Governor’s Awards in the same year, one for its Housing Element and another for Rural Lands regulator updates. Island County also won an award for the Freeland Development Regulations.

“Creativity, collaboration and public engagement are key to ensuring that communities are successful in meeting future growth and prosperity goals,” said Governor Jay Inslee.


City, county commissions to meet

Learn about city government and meet council and commission members as they make local decisions. Agendas and meeting minutes are posted at To inquire, call 360-629-2181.

• Stanwood City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, in the Stanwood-Camano School District Administration Building, 26920 Pioneer Hwy. in Stanwood. 

• To avoid meeting on Veterans Day, Stanwood Planning Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, in the Stanwood Fire Station, 8117 267th Place NW, Stanwood. Normally the commission meets on second and fourth Tuesdays. 

• Island County Commissioners meet at 10 a.m. Tuesdays in Coupeville, with a videoconferencing link to the Camano Annex office, 121 N. East Camano Drive. A public comment period is scheduled the first four Tuesdays each month. See or call 360-387-3443 to inquire.

• Island County Planning Commission meets at 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, in a special session regarding a public hearing on including community gardens and parks in the Public Benefit Rating System. Planning staff offers strategic changes to PBRS requirements that may include properties like Freedom Park in this important tax program, said Island County Commission Janet St. Clair. A live feed to the meeting in Coupeville is available in St. Clair’s office in the Camano Annex for those who want to participate.The agenda includes discussions of revisions for the Housing Element and creating an Economic Development Element for the Comprehensive Plan. Find meeting documents at


Help rank state outdoor investments

The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office is recruiting 50 volunteers to fill positions on its 17 advisory committees. The committees evaluate grant proposals for parks, boating infrastructure, working farms and forests, and habitat conservation statewide.

“As one of the state’s biggest investors in Washington’s outdoors, we want our state’s network of parks, trails, boating facilities and habitat to reflect the broad community of people who visit and protect these special places,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.

For more information or to apply, visit


Camano Island Town Hall-style meeting set

Island County Commissioner Janet St. Clair hosts experts from the county and community organizations to speak about “How to be Prepared for Winter Weather” followed by Q&A in the blue Camano Multi-Purpose Center, 141 N East Camano Drive, Camano Island. 

The Town Hall-style meeting takes place from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday,

Nov. 14.


Open Enrollment for Medicare

Medicare’s 2019 annual open enrollment period for prescription drug plans (Part D) and Medicare Advantage plans runs through Dec. 7.

 “Navigating Medicare plan options can be overwhelming,” says Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.

The Camano Center and Warm Beach Senior Community are offering free appointments with Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors. Contact the Camano Center at 360-387-0222 or Warm Beach Community Center at 415-513-1900 to make an appointment. Space is limited.


Skagit considers selling fairgrounds for housing

Skagit County officials are considering selling the county fairgrounds in Mount Vernon and working with the city to open the 16-acre property for new housing development.

County Planning Director Hal Hart said the move would open up prime residential land for development, adding supply to an extremely tight housing market.

“Whatever the answer (to the housing crisis) is, we need more housing,” Hart said. “Even our own staff have trouble finding housing at a reasonable price.”

He said he plans to include funding for what’s called a subarea plan in his 2020 budget proposal. The subarea plan process, which would take into 2021, would involve discussions with stakeholders and nearby residents to determine what kind of housing would be the best fit for the current fairgrounds and the surrounding area.

With a rental vacancy rate of about 0.2%, Skagit County’s housing market is one of the tightest in the country. Such a market has many side effects, including increasing homelessness and hindering economic vitality.

“It has a regional impact when companies want to come to the area but can’t find housing,” Hart said.


Advisory vote on fireworks ban passing

Voters in Snohomish County are approving Proposition 1 with 56.5% of the vote. The nonbinding measure would urge county leaders to ban consumer fireworks in unincorporated “urban growth” areas of Snohomish County. Now, fireworks are allowed from 9 a.m. to midnight on July 4 in those areas. 

Proponets argue local fire departments are taxed trying to deal with fireworks incidents and neighbors are left to clean up messes.

Most incorporated cities across Snohomish County already ban the discharge of consumer fireworks.

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