Whidbey News-Times


Shoreline update needs revisiting | Letter

May 6, 2013 · Updated 4:16 PM


Wednesday night was the open house held by Department of Ecology for Island County’s new Shoreline Master Program Update.

Considering the plan has new and larger waterfront setbacks for home construction, I was curious and concerned what the plan would say about the hundreds of waterfront homes that had been legally constructed and met the setbacks at the time of construction but would now be non-conforming for setbacks once the plan is adopted.

Many of the historical waterfront lots are nowhere near the depth of the new setbacks.

My concern is if there is a catastrophic event such as a fire or earthquake could the home owner rebuild if the home was damaged or destroyed.

The answer is no, it can’t be rebuilt if the home is more than 75 percent destroyed, minus foundation.

Note: leaving out the foundation or lot cost just makes it that much more difficult to be under the 75 percent limit.

During my tenure as county commissioner our board did not want to hammer the unfortunate family that had experienced a catastrophic loss and made sure if a family had legally built their home at some point in time they would be able to rebuild their home as long as it was not located any closer to the water than originally built.

I asked a state Department of Ecology representative if the 75 percent criterion was required or had any other communities allowed the rebuilding if 100 percent had been destroyed.

He answered that some communities had used 100 percent. I then asked could anything be changed at this point in the process.

He said ecology could change it based on public comments.

If you feel the county should not kick or punish the unfortunate family that has their home destroyed more than 75 percent please contact David Pater, Washington State Department of Ecology at 3190 160th Ave. S.E., Bellevue, WA 98008  or email him at David.Pater@ecy.wa.gov.

Explain that, if a home is destroyed and is now non-conforming because of increased setbacks, that home should be able to be rebuilt even if 100 percent is destroyed.

Also contact the county commissioners because they can also demand the change.

Comments are dueno later than 5 p.m. Friday, May 24.

Mac McDowell

Oak Harbor


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