Evergreen Islands
PO Box 223
Anacortes, WA 98221
______________________________

December 15, 1999
Mr. Gary Christensen
Skagit County Planning & Permit Center
200 W Washington
Mount Vernon, WA 98273

RE: Proposed Title 14

 

Dear Mr. Christensen:

On the behalf of Evergreen Islands, I am presenting our concerns about the proposed amendments to Skagit County's Title 14 Code.

GENERAL COMMENTS
The property rights issue is a double-edged sword. On the one side, rural property owners have the right to develop their land, but only up to a point. At some point their developments infringe on the property rights of the neighboring property owners.

On the other side, most rural property owners only want to use their property for their homes; a refuge from the hustle and bustle of modern life and a place to raise a family. These people have a right to a long-term sense of security; a sense that the tranquility of their homes will not be compromised by commercial operations, drainage problems, or pollution of their water supply.

For the remainder of this memorandum, these two types of rural property owners will be referred to as either developers or homeowners.

One purpose of zoning is to provide a balance of property rights that
allow developers and homeowners to coexist under a set of laws that protect the rights of both types of rural property owners. The proposed Title 14 code provides an unfair advantage to developers and leaves homeowners in a lurch.

SPECIFIC COMMENTS
Administrative Special Uses
The types of administrative special uses has expanded immensely from the current Title 14. These changes will provide developers with an overwhelming advantage over homeowners. Administrative Special Uses are Type I permits, and as such the homeowner doesn't have the opportunity to appeal the final decision until after the decision is made.

Imagine a homeowner living on a 2 1/2 acre lot zoned Rural Intermediate and who's water supply is a well. Do you think it's fair to not inform the homeowner or allow him to present his opposition to a cemetery, more than 50 cubic yards of animal carcasses, or stables on the 2 1/2 acre lot adjacent to his property until after the decision has been made? Come on guys, give the homeowner a fighting chance!

To protect the property rights of the homeowners who may encounter similar, absurd situations as described above, Evergreen Islands recommends that Skagit County adopt a Type I notification requirement adopting the wording presented in 14.06.110(15) (Type I Review Procedures for Administrative Long Subdivisions of fewer than 9 lots). A section could be added to 14.06.150 as follows:

(Between (1) and (2)) Type I Public Notice Requirements
(a) The notice of application shall be made within 10 days of the filing of a complete application.

(b) The notice of application shall be posted on or around the parcel being subdivided in at least five conspicuous places designed to attract public awareness of the proposal and mailed to the owner of each parcel within three hundred feet of the site.

(c) The notices of application shall include notification that no public hearing will be held in conjunction with the application, except as provided in this Subsection.

(d) The notice of application shall set out the procedures and time limitations for persons to require a public hearing and make comments.

(e) Any person shall have 21 days from the date of the notice of application to comment on the proposed preliminary Long Subdivision application. All comments received shall be provided to the Applicant. The Applicant has seven days from receipt of the comments to respond thereto.

(f) A public hearing on the proposed subdivision application shall be held (and the subdivision application shall therefore be processed as Type III-HE decision) if any person files a request for a hearing with the County within 21 days of the publishing of such notice.

(g) On its own initiative within 21 days of the filing of the complete application, the County is authorized to cause a public hearing to be held on the proposed subdivision application.

Then 14.06.110 (15) could be revised to read as follows:

(15) Type I Public Notices are required for the following applications:
a) Boundary line adjustments
b) Short Subdivisions
c) Administrative Long Subdivisions of fewer than 9 lots, tracts or parcels.
d) Administrative Special Uses.

Hearing Examiner Special Uses for RI, RVR, and RRv

Any commercial operation that entails clients coming to the site must be regarded on the same footing as a Home Based Business 2, and therefore must be classified as a Hearing Examiner Special Use. By definition, a Home Based Business 1 is carried out exclusively by member(s) of the family, and clients do not come to the site. A Home Based Business 2 by definition is "clearly incidental and secondary to the use of the property for dwelling purposes".

Therefore the following commercial uses must have the same footing as Home Based Business 2 and must be categorized as Hearing Examiner Special Uses:
Bed and Breakfasts
Cemeteries
Primitive and developed campgrounds
Display gardens
Historic sites open to the public
Outdoor recreational facilities
Retriever/field trial dog training facilities
Stables/riding club
Animal clinic/hospital
Retail and wholesale nurseries/greenhouses

Rural Intermediate (14.16.300)
Evergreen Islands has the following comments about the rural intermediate designation:

· Outdoor storage of potentially hazardous waste is unacceptable.

· Outdoor Shooting Ranges are inappropriate for this population density.

· In the interest of public health, the minimum lot size should be 5 acres. Since most rural residences have a combination of a septic system and a well for drinking water, 5 acre parcels allow neighboring septic systems and wells to be separated a sufficient distance apart to guarantee safe water supplies. Further land division of a 2 1/2 acre parcel created though a CaRD should be permitted as an administrative special use only if the land is conducive to septic systems and water systems in close proximity.

· Since septic systems on 2 1/2 acres are marginal at best, further land division of a 2 1/2 acre parcel created though a CaRD should not be permitted.

· Most of the Administrative Special Uses should be Hearing Examiner Special Uses (See the preceding section entitled Hearing Examiner Special Uses).

· The list of permitted uses should be listed in order from most applicable to least applicable. Detached single-family dwelling units should be first on the list, then residential accessory uses, agriculture, agricultural accessory uses, etc.

· The term 'gross building area' should be defined. For 2 1/2 acre parcel, the gross building area is slightly over 38,000 square feet.

Rural Village Residential (14.16.310)
Evergreen Islands has the following comments about the rural village residential designation:

· Most of the Administrative Special Uses should be Hearing Examiner Special Uses (See the preceding section entitled Hearing Examiner Special Uses).

· The list of permitted uses should be listed in order from most applicable to least applicable. Detached single-family dwelling units should be first on the list, then residential accessory uses, agriculture, agricultural accessory uses, etc.

Rural Reserve (14.16.320)
Evergreen Islands has the following comments about the rural reserve designation:

· Outdoor storage of potentially hazardous waste is unacceptable.

· Outdoor Shooting Ranges are inappropriate for this population density.

· The list of permitted uses should be listed in order from most applicable to least applicable. Detached single-family dwelling units should be first on the list, then residential accessory uses, agriculture, agricultural accessory uses, etc.
Typographical Errors?

14.06.040 (1)(a)(iv) Long subdivisions of fewer than 9 lots, tracts or parcels…
14.18.100 (3)(b) Preliminary long subdivisions with 8 or fewer lots shall be processed as a Type 1 application, per SCC 14.06.


FINAL COMMENT
The period of time allowed for providing comments on the voluminous set of documents was much too short - so short in fact that it borders on being criminal. Concerned parties were not given enough time to review the documents thoroughly, and as a result, the documents will not be 'as good as they can be'

Sincerely,


Tom Glade
Vice President