Can't buy this farm

With 43 acres of farmland and one of Whidbey Island’s most beautiful and historic barns, the last thing Rita Cline wanted to see in her mailbox was a solicitation from a California development company.

But that’s what she found when she opened an envelope this week. “My name is Mark and I will be buying land in Island County,” states the opening of the letter from a company called NRLL, Inc., in Irvine, Calif.

“It’s just cheesy,” said Cline, describing the letter. “I’ve been to Irvine and it’s miles of cement.” The letter goes on to ask interested property owners to reply, and is signed only by “Mark G.”

Cline and her husband John purchased the old William James homestead at Taylor and Silver Lake roads in 1987. Its most prominent feature is a barn built in 1914 by Otto Van Dyke, the famed builder of local barns. The only other Van Dyke barns remaining are the Roller Barn in Oak Harbor and the Fakkema family barn, according to Cline.

Cline’s concern that a developer may be eyeing the area for a major project is apparently misplaced, according to an NRLL spokesman.

Gary Dybdahl answered a phone call to NRLL Wednesday and said the company solicits land to purchase throughout the country. “We look to buy vacant land and sell it after three or four months,” he said. He estimated the company sent out 300 letters to Island County property owners with lots of 10 acres or larger. He said if any responses are received “Mark” will be sent to this area to negotiate with the prospective sellers. Dybdahl would not reveal Mark’s last name. “He doesn’t want to give his name out,” he said.

Why did they pick Whidbey Island to make their inquiries? It wasn’t the result of market research or any development plans, according to Dybdahl. “Mark was brought up there,” he explained.

A message was left for Mark to call the News-Times, but as of Friday he had not responded.

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