Moratorium tabled

For the second time in a week, the majority of Oak Harbor City Council members decided against placing a development moratorium on land that falls under accident potential zones on a new map from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

On Oct. 4, the council voted down a proposed moratorium, but said they would discuss the issue in more detail at the Oct. 18 meeting.

Last night, the council met again in a special meeting to consider a moratorium on properties located in the accident zone, or APZ, that are also zoned C-4 commercial. They voted 4-2 to table the matter until the Oct. 18 meeting.

Council members Richard Davis, Eric Gerber, Larry Eaton and Sue Karahalios voted in favor of tabling the matter. Paul Brewer and Sheilah Crider voted against. Councilman Danny Paggao was absent.

Davis, Eaton and Karahalios expressed annoyance at having to come to a special meeting without complete and timely information.

Karahalios said she thought there was supposed to be new information presented at the meeting, but she didn’t hear anything she didn’t know before. Also, she said the members were given the lengthy proposed ordinance on the moratorium just minutes before being asked to vote.

“This process,” she said, “has been less than the process I would have expected to be part of as a city council member.”

Eaton agreed. “I resent the fact that this was laid at my feet just a minute ago,” he said, referring to the proposed ordinance.

Davis said he was perplexed as to why the meeting couldn’t wait until next week.

“Suddenly this emergency session comes out of nowhere,” he said, “and I am a little annoyed that I had to leave work.”

Mayor Patty Cohen called the special meeting. She excused herself from the meeting because of conflict or interest issues since her family owns C-4 zoned land near the Boyer property. Before leaving, she said she scheduled the meeting at the request of a couple council members — presumably Brewer and Crider.

At issue is the so-called Boyer property, a 17-acre parcel at the corner of Highway 20 and Fakkema Drive. A Bellevue-area developer has plans to build a 165,000-square-foot shopping pavilion on the property.

But the problem is that it’s located near the end of a runway. The Navy recently released a map that places the land in APZ-1 and APZ-2, which are areas where crashes are statistically more common.

Some officials and residents are worries about the development encroaching on the Navy base.

Oak Harbor developer Bill Massey, for example, addressed the council and spoke about the importance of preventing encroachment as a way to forestall base closure. He said the city and county are known for their efforts to prevent encroachment.

“I think we’ve done the job,” he said, “and we need to continue to do the job.”

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