Letter: Conservation Futures program helps to make island a special place


This is in response to the Wanda Grone Opinion piece published in the Feb. 11 South Whidbey Record. Ms.Grone is a respected former Island County Treasurer and the current finance director in Langley, so her thoughts hold influence.

I totally agree that we need more affordable workforce housing. However, I disagree with her assumption that preservation of family farms with the aid of Conservation Futures Funds conflicts with protecting the forest on this particular piece of property.

First, on Feb. 6, the Langley City Council unanimously voted to support the Whidbey Camano Land Trust’s application for Conservation Futures Funds to acquire a conservation easement on the 25-acre forested portion of the historic Fossek Farm. It is curious to me that Ms. Grone would go around the wishes of the city council she serves.

Second, the parcel of land in question fits carefully into the city’s Comprehensive Plan of preserving forests, agriculture, and open space around Langley for a combination of greenbelt, wildlife corridors, parks and trails.

Third, this property sits on the ridge above Langley that forms its watershed. Protecting the quality of Langley’s watershed is crucial.

Fourth, the piece of property in question is not suitable for affordable housing. This requires high density zoning. It is currently zoned for a maximum of one house on five acres. High density housing must be served by sewer, water, roads and public transit service — none of which are planned for this property.

Finally, I am disturbed that this public servant is encouraging individuals to lobby their county commissioners to question the use of Conservation Futures Funding, which is specifically designed to foster the natural beauty and resources that make our island a special place. As I noted above, potential land for affordable housing does not equate with just any piece of rural land.

Ann Linnea