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Mall in crash zone pulled

A Bellevue developer will not build a giant shopping pavilion with clothing stores and restaurants on the north end of Oak Harbor.

Don Boyer, retired car dealer, said Wednesday that he asked developer Nat Franklin to rescind the purchase and sale agreement on the 17-acre parcel that’s been at the center of controversy since September. Boyer is the trustee of the parcel for his children.

Franklin agreed and revoked his offer. He had preliminary designs for 165,000-square-foot of retail and restaurant space and already had tenants lined up, though he never made application to the city.

“I think we could have proceeded, but that would have involved litigation,” Boyer said. “I’ve lived in Oak Harbor for 76 years and I didn’t want to get involved in litigation with the city.”

The plans for the site — located on Highway 20 at Fakkema Road — ran into a snag when the Navy released an accident potential zone, or APZ, map this fall. The map shows that the Boyer property and two adjacent properties are within a zone, off the end of a runway, where aircraft are statistically more likely to crash.

Mayor Patty Cohen and Island County Commissioner Mac McDowell tried to work out a deal with Boyer for local government and the Navy to buy the property last summer, but some council members were against the idea.

Cohen and McDowell are concerned about encroachment on the base. They pointed out that the base will be safer from closure in the future if there’s no intrusive development surrounding it.

After hearing about the APZ map and the developer’s plans, Cohen proposed a building moratorium on land zoned C-4, which includes the Boyer land. The City Council first rejected the moratorium, then tabled it, but came around to see things Cohen’s way a few weeks later. They passed a six-month development moratorium on land within the APZ zone in order to give staff time to create new zoning regulations.

The City Council will discuss the future of the moratorium during a public hearing Dec. 13.

Boyer pointed out that the county zoned his land commercial in 1985 and Oak Harbor zoned it commercial in 1993. He said Navy official told him that the planned development would be OK under Navy guidelines. Nonetheless, some city officials don’t want the developer to build a shopping center.

Boyer said he’s not sure what will happen with the land now.

“I’ll talk to my family,” he said. “I’ll probably sit on it for awhile and see what happens.”

There’s still a chance that the Navy could buy the land.

Boyer, who’s director emeritus for the national Navy League, was at a Navy League conference in Washington D.C. a couple weeks ago.

“I was told that there are federal funds available if the Navy wants to buy it as a buffer,” he said. “But I don’t know if the Navy is interested.”

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