County takes step to help Wagon Wheel

The Island County Planning Commission has taken the first step to eliminate a potential barrier for Oak Harbor to provide water to a mobile home park in crisis.

Commission members Monday voted unanimously to recommend amending the city’s urban growth area, or UGA, to include Wagon Wheel Mobile Home Park so municipal water service could be extended there.

The park’s on-site wells failed earlier this year and two attempts to drill proved unsuccessful. With the help of the county hydrogeologist, one of the wells has some functionality restored, but it isn’t working at a sustainable level, according to Public Health Director Keith Higman.

The park, which houses about 70 people, is on property just outside city limits. Oak Harbor officials have expressed concern that extending water service outside its UGA would be in violation of its municipal code. County commissioners have said they will continue the process of amending the growth area boundary if the city confirms it is necessary and commits to providing the service.

The boundary amendment would eventually change the property’s zoning designation, but it wouldn’t allow for any more development on the property, said Assistant Planning Director Beverly Mesa Zendt. She said the parcel is already developed to it’s maximum density and no possible zoning change would increase that.

The change won’t be official until commissioners hold a public hearing and vote.

In the meantime, the park residents are on a boil water notice. Higman said the park could be at risk of closing if a more permanent solution isn’t found soon. Wagon Wheel’s closure would eliminate about 70 affordable housing units, Mesa Zendt said.

Since the county is not a utility provider, a viable long-term solution is for the city to extend its water service, Higman said. The park’s well infrastructure is around 60 years old and uses an out-dated design, he said.

The city has shown interest in helping the situation, but officials haven’t yet indicated what that action will be.

“The county is doing everything it can to help Oak Harbor help county residents,” said planning commission member Tracy Gilroy.

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