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Accident zone no-no's proposed

People who own land in Oak Harbor that falls within accident potential zones off the end of Navy runways won’t be able to build restaurants, professional and scientific instrument manufacturing or sanitary landfills on the sites, under draft amendments to the city code.

The City Council is scheduled to discuss the the draft during their regular meeting 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 17 at City Hall. Yet Senior Planner Larry Cort said the City Council won’t be adopting the changes soon.

“It’s a discussion document more than a proposal at this stage,” he said.

Although the document presents somewhat minor changes to the land use, Cort said the City Council and community can decide to be even more restrictive. At least two landowners, however, have warned the city against taking such action.

City planners have been working on new zoning regulations for APZ areas since the City Council passed an emergency, six-month moratorium on development within the zones Oct. 18. The Navy released a map that showed 60 acres of city land falls under accident potential zones, which are areas where plane accidents are statistically more likely to occur.

City leaders passed the moratorium because they were concerned about encroachment on the Navy base and safety concerns if a new development brings a lot of people to the zones.

Mayor Patty Cohen and City Council members were most concerned about a 17-acre parcel of land at Highway 20 and Fakkema Drive. Retired car dealer Don Boyer is the trustee for the property. He had an agreement with a Bellevue developer who planned to build a shopping pavilion on the site.

Boyer later asked the developer to rescind the purchase and sales agreement, but warned that “restrictions on the property that exceed the restrictions by the Navy and the Department of Defense” may end up in litigation.

Cort said planners developed the draft amendments by comparing what the allowed uses are in the current C-4 “highway service commercial district” zone that the land is currently in with the Navy’s recommendations for APZs.

The biggest difference in allowed uses are restaurants, instrument manufacturing and landfill. The Navy recommends against allowing any of these uses in APZ-2.

The planners’ list of what’s currently allowed in C-4 zones is somewhat subjective. The council agenda states that shopping centers, for example, are not allowed in C-4 zones. But city code does not expressly forbid shopping centers in C-4 zones. It lists 14 permitted uses — such as automobile and furniture sales — and states other similar uses are allowed “as defined by the planning director.”

About five acres of city land — owned by Boyer — also fall under the more restrictive APZ-1. The Navy recommends that uses like drive-in banks and real estate offices not be allowed.

Cort said planners amended existing overlay zones to take APZs into account. Under the draft, the 60 acres would remain C-4 zoned, but would also be subject to an overlay zone with further restrictions on usage.

Cort said planners will ask the City Council Tuesday to refer the draft to the planning commission for further study and a recommendation back to the council.

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