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AS I SEE IT- BY DAVID A RALSTON

 AS I SEE IT

REALLY SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
 Janet Alderton’s letter caught my attention by suggesting it would straighten out misconceptions. Unfortunately, she only proved to be correct in saying, “Misinformation is alarming many people in our community.” What followed was a masterful piece of cherry picking examples and glaring omissions in an effort to discredit people with whom she does not agree.

 

 
Here are the facts. She states in her correction of Peg Manning, “the number of species as listed as threatened…almost doubled in two years.” However, if you read the referenced material cited, it says, “About half or 27 of the 49 newly added species, were already listed and were added because we did not consider them users of the Salish Sea until a recently published paper identified them.”
 
She states, “The Reasonable Use Exception (RUE) allows up to one half acre of development per parcel.” A careful reading of the ordinance will show that the owner is only guaranteed 2,500 sq. ft. of development which would include the driveway, gardens, lawns, patios and whatever is left over for a house. If you are unlucky enough to be in a wetland, this 2,500 sq. ft. is reduced to 1,500 sq. ft. maximum.
 
Now just stop and think. A typical in-town 50-foot driveway will require 1,000 sq. ft. A double car garage requires 400 sq. ft. If you require a septic system, a small garden and lawn, a patio and any area required for grading, all count toward the 2,500 sq. ft. Now, you do the math and see how large a house you could get on this lot. This provision is a blatant indefensible attempt to avoid inverse condemnation by the county.
 
Ms. Alderton points to a grant to help homeowners understand the proposed ordinance.  At present there are no qualified staff members to be of assistance. What happens when the grant money runs out. More to the point, now is when that person is needed so citizens can give informed comments on the proposed ordinance. The position remains unfilled, thank you.
 
Ms Alderton seems to be assuaged by the fact that, in perpetuity, a nonconforming structure that is 100% destroyed can be replaced. What she omitted is that this provision is applicable only until “the effective date of a comprehensive update of the Shoreline Master Program.” This is an uncomfortable definition of perpetuity.
 
The final dismissal by Ms. Alderton of John Evans’s concerns poses a curious understanding of zoning administration. She opines, “The property owner decides when to seek planning permission.” Good luck! Will the cemetery board have to get a permit before each grave is excavated, filled and replanted?
Mr. Evans concerns should not be overlooked in such a cavalier manner. As a longtime grower, he is concerned about the elimination of the definition “Allowable Agricultural Activities.” This definition has been replaced with a complex set of charts and regulations that require careful review, especially if there are to be any changes to ongoing practices. Ms. Alderton, a retired biologist, feels comfortable with the phrases, “additional adverse effect on critical area functions and values.” These subjective terms do not translate easily into clear zoning administration regulations. 
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David A. Ralston has years of experience both as a Zoning Administrator and as an expert witness in condemnation and inverse condemnation court cases.