Feedback: Organize to oppose WEAN
July 3, 2008 · Updated 10:29 PM
If there is a strip of green grass growing in a meadow (field) during the dry months of July or August, could that land be declared wetlands? According to the Planning Department of Island County, this could be true.
Could the 100-foot wetland buffer be changed to 300 feet? There are people working to change the 100-foot buffer to 300 feet. If this wetland zone were in the middle of a parcel of land, it would effectively destroy the use of a field for farming, grazing haying or simply recreation.
If the wetland designation is applied to a strip of land across the holdings of a property owners, the land on all sides of the buffer zone could not be used if the owner needed to cross the zone to work the land.
There are three requirements that identify wetlands: Water present on or near the surface, aquatic plants and and soil of wetland quality. The county determines if the water, soil and plants qualify a piece of ground as wetland.
There is a group successfully pressuring those who make these decisions because property owners do not have a unified voice at the scheduled meetings. The WEAN organization is actively pushing agendas like the ones described above, which will deprive property owners of their rightful use of the land they have bought, paid for and pay taxes on. This organization has members present at every meeting called by the county, where WEAN representatives come armed with facts, figures and documentation in an effort to limit the accessibility to the property people own.
If property owners do not counter these political activists, many will see the majority of their land become untouchable.
The high taxes and an attitude in some sectors that the island belongs to the wealthy is an additional threat to those who presently live in Island County.
For those who have lived on the island for generations, the fact should be pointed out that the Critical Area Regulations of the GMA are not grandfathered. This means the buffer zone and other wetland policies apply to everyone, regardless of how long a person has lived on the island or what use the land was in the past.
The Island County Property Rights Alliance was organized to assist property owners and the county in creating reasonable and fair policies concerning land use. If we, the property owners, do not support this organization or a similar movement, it is obvious what will happen in the future.
Membership information in the Island County Property Rights Alliance can be obtained at (360) 221-7473 or 579-2790.