Editorial: Crockett Barn decision wise

Hearing Examiner Michael Bobbink deftly walked a fine line on his decision allowing limited events at the historic Crockett Barn owned by Paula Spina.

Spina applied to formally turn the barn, which has long been used for hoedowns and fundraisers, into a designated rural event center. This would have allowed not only the usual menu of weddings and parties, but several events sponsored by non-profits such as the Boys & Girls Club Auction.

Considering the historic and rural location of the old barn, Bobbink made a reasonable decision, one that satisfied more than 20 rural neighbors who expressed concern about the noise of so many events, many lasting until late at night.

Bobbink capped the number of major events with 200 guests at 30 per year, which admittedly will put a crimp in Spina’s plans. It may also force some worthy charitable causes on Whidbey Island to look elsewhere for an event location, but that’s a trade-off that people should be able to live with. A major events center in the heart of Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve with scores of big events every year would be out of place and conflict with the rural nature of the reserve. Bobbink may have gone a bit far in shutting down major events at 10 p.m., but considering the neighbors’ concerns, that too is understandable.

Meanwhile, Spina’s barn can still host any number of events attracting 50 or fewer people. Whether this number can produce a profit is up to Spina to decide. Plus she can still host 30 major events annually, which should help her pay for the upkeep of the beloved old building.

It’s impossible to make all parties happy in a neighborhood dispute. Spina may yet decide to appeal the decision. But Bobbink’s reasoning was sound and the decision is one that all involved should respect. Then the community can move on to more important issues.

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