Rural character more than visual
March 16, 2010 · Updated 1:28 PM
I moved to Whidbey Island early in 2001 from Minneapolis, where I lived happily near the city center, on the 14th floor of my condo overlooking Interstate 35W, the downtown skyscrapers, and the winding Mississippi and its bridges, with an expansive view of sunsets and approaching storms. Here I am a renter, living happily on a corner of Ebey’s Reserve, in San de Fuca, again loving the very different visual beauty but also the remarkable peace and quiet, which I had not experienced since my adolescence in the Nebraska countryside, having lived contentedly in cities (including Glasgow, London, and Houston) all my previous adult life.
I don’t know Ms. Spina or the Jefferds; all I know is what I read in the papers. Primarily, I have been struck by the irony of Ms. Spina’s very public attack on the Jefferds for a proposed house which would have violated the character of the Reserve by its size, and her demands now that she be allowed to violate its character by a proposal (Crockett Barn event center) which would inevitably increase traffic and noise in a rural residential area of the Reserve.
Being a visual artist, she herself might be more attuned to the visual than to the auditory and would be more offended by a large house that sat there quietly than by having someone else’s neighborhood event center nearby. Like a few people I’ve met on the island, she may even miss the hustle and bustle of a city (which I myself still enjoy, in small doses).
But whatever her personal predilections, a violation is a violation, and those who choose to buy property on the Reserve are not exempt from its intent to maintain its rural character, as she proclaimed so loudly with regard to the Jefferds’ house. That rural character includes far more than the purely visual; it certainly includes an intent to provide a measure of auditory peace and tranquility (as far as possible) to the residents within its borders.