Opinion

Ebey's Reserve mansion owner fully aware of legal red tape

The Whidbey News-Times editorial June 18 states, “Ebey’s Reserve ‘McMansion’ fiasco may be good in long run,” and the opinion is given that the “innocent” homeowner, Ian Jefferds, was “caught in the middle.”

Unfortunately, the facts say otherwise. I was at the Historical Review Committee meeting at which the supposed error was made regarding the Jefferds building permit. Ian Jefferds was also in attendance at this meeting and was involved in the discussions about his building permit. His portion of the meeting lasted well over two hours and everyone was getting edgy and tired. Why? Because the committee and Jefferds went round and round about the building footprint and design and no matter what compromises the committee offered to Jefferds, he resolutely refused to make any design changes to the home.

Because of the mounting tension in the room, the HRC chose to try and approve several of the permits for this project in front of them, so that some progress could be made. The grading and leveling permit was approved, which was a small part of the project, which could be carried out without any determent to the Jefferds’ plan or the reserve ordinances.

This was the cover sheet which was signed, but somehow, and no one has an exact accounting why, it ended up on the face of the housing permit from which the county then issued the permit, though all supporting documents clearly and precisely stated that no such approval had been given for the building permit!

I believe Ian Jefferds was fully aware that when he left that meeting, his house plans were totally denied and that he was requested to return in two weeks time where his permit would again be discussed. Ian chose not to return and no further action was taken as the HRC waited for Ian to resubmit his plans, which of course, never happened because someone in the planning department had informed him the house plans were approved.

To imply that Ian Jefferds is innocent and caught in the middle is just not factual. He knew when he left that meeting, his house plans had been denied and that they were totally out of compliance with the Ebey’s Reserve ordinances in one of the most critical areas of the reserve.

Further, he claimed he would consider any offer of comparable land to build his house on, but all attempts by the Ebey’s Reserve, Whidbey Camano Land Trust and other parties has resulted in polite but resolute refusals from Ian.

Further, he purchased a lot a few thousand yards from his present home and immediately put it up for sale. When that lot sells and the buyer wants to build a similar McMansion on it, he or she only has to point down Wanamaker to the Jefferds Estate and say if Ian can do it, then I have the right to do it too!

That’s why it matters that if Ian is allowed to continue with the current permit for his house, the entire reserve loses. All that anyone is asking of him is to rework his floor plans and break up his 122 foot wall of windows facing south across Crockett Lake and Keystone Spit. Is that really such an onerous request from the community in order to preserve a view shed that has existed since time began and saved for future generations to enjoy? Anyone, including myself, who has any appreciation for what we enjoy here in Central Whidbey wouldn’t think twice!

Lance D. Loomis lives at Crockett Farm in Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve.

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