The following article was published in FIDALGO, THIS WEEK, March 3, 2000
Groups agree, no crowding South Fidalgo Island
By Nathan Lindberg
Over 230 people crammed into the Anacortes Council Chambers Tuesday night to talk about the county’s proposed study to look into greater population density on South Fidalgo Island. The three views represented argued for and against the study, but all three sides agreed that they do not want the intense growth on South Fidalgo Island.
Both the city and Evergreen Islands opposed the study and supported the agreement made in 1997 between the City of Anacortes and Skagit County to make an average lot size of 2.5 acres on South Fidalgo Island and allow for an estimated population increase of 6,000.
Evergreen Islands, a local activist group that organized the meeting, was represented by its president, Steve Clark. Clark said the study could have a significant impact on South Fidalgo Island.
“If this study is undertaken and this rezoning takes place, 18,000 people, double our current population, could potentially come here,” said Clark.
Anacortes City Planner Ian Munce argued that the county should not even be proposing a study. Munce said according to the Growth Management Act (GMA) guidelines, the county must consult the local residents and the city to make any rezoning. Munce said that in 1993 survey, residents of South Fidalgo Island said they did not want more intense population zoning, and the city abided by those wishes in the 1997 agreement.
The Association of Skagit County Landowners (ASCL) was the only group that supported the proposed study but also opposed intense population growth on South Fidalgo Island.
Ken Howard, president of the ASCL, said that the 1997 agreement infringed on some landowners’ rights by changing their lot size from 2.5 acres to 10 acres.
In an interview before the meeting, Howard said that the ASCL only wants land rezoned to its original 2.5 acres status. Members of the group have tried to take their cases to the GMA appeals board, but for the most part, failed. The county’s proposed study may be ASCL’s only chance to get rezoning.
County Commissioner Bob Hart was also at the meeting and defended the county. Hart explained the county was dealing with litigation from a group called the Friends of Skagit County (FSC) and ASCL. The county came to an agreement with FSC to avoid litigation, and agreed to consider various land studies, including the South Fidalgo Island study to appease ASCL.
Now the study is being reviewed by the Skagit County Planning Commission that is expected to make a recommendation in March or April.