Editorial: Compensate one, compensate all

Island County is in an embarrassing situation as it tries to downzone nine parcels of land in the Navy’s “aircraft noise potential zone,” located in the Dugualla Bay area.

It’s a rural area and there’s no threat of apartments springing up. But with the downzone, it won’t be possible to subdivide at all. This leaves a number of good citizens who are worried about their retirement years and even their ability to continue present farming activities rightly concerned.

The county is offering a minor tax break, but nothing more. The embarrassing part stems from a similar situation with the Boyer property in Oak Harbor which was also subject to downzoning due to noise zone issues. But rather than simply downzone the property, which was earmarked for a major commercial development, the county and city led an effort to purchase it outright. Some $2.3 million later, taxpayers are now the proud owners of the Boyer property.

In light of the Boyer deal, it seems unfair to not offer some financial compensation to the owners of the rural acreage at Dugualla Bay. There’s no need to buy the land, but compensation for the loss of certain future uses of the property seems appropriate. The county commissioners should start looking around for the money. As they learned with the Boyer purchase, Olympia is a good place to start.

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