Sound Off: Town needs regime change

  • Saturday, September 8, 2007 8:00pm
  • Opinion

Well readers, it’s me again, sitting up in British Columbia, pondering the fate of the once little town that I love. I’m certain that many of you are tired of hearing my thoughts and opinions, but as a third generation, 57-year resident of Coupeville, I feel entitled to offer my two bits worth so please bear with me once more.

I note that the mayor/queen has had to bow her aspirations for the ruination of Front Street to the laws of the state of Washington, in particular the Shoreline Management Act and Washington Administrative Code provisions promulgating the same. Despite her determined and expensive efforts to undermine the act by allowing the construction of non-water dependent three-story stores, restaurants and residential rental units geared toward the moneyed class, filling in all vacant tracts on the shore side of Front Street, blotting out all views of the bay, except for those with enough money to eat high-priced meals and rent fancy overnight rooms, she has not been able to pull off her deceptive and twisted interpretation of the Shoreline Act.

Let it be known that well over a year before she was forced by the State Department of Ecology to throw in the towel on her and her bureaucrat Kwarsik’s fabricated definitions of “water dependent uses,” I informed both her and the bureaucrat that over-water construction on Front Street is limited by state law to water-dependent uses. She proceeded to spend I expect tens of thousands of dollars of her high-salaried time, as well as that of Kwarsik’s, trying to overcome the clear mandate of the law. They misled the citizens about the definitions contained in the Shoreline Act and Administrative Code, trying to hoodwink the citizenry into believing that the proposed steak house (Mad Cow) with rental rooms, and other planned yet unapplied for projects of the same ilk, complied with the law. I estimate that she spent at least $10,000 on Kwarsik trying to ruin Front Street. But, the citizens educated themselves and along with the help of the Department of Ecology prevented the fraud from happening.

I have known Nancy since elementary school and know her to be overly development oriented, giving pleasing smiles and lip service to “historic values, open space, lack of traffic congestion, low density development,” etc., but all the while promoting and supporting every single development that is proposed in town while doing nothing to give effect to the lip service. She has been able to fool many people for a long time but I think and hope that her reign is coming to a close.

Then there is Bob Clay, running for office again on the council, complaining that the town wasted $100,000 on legal fees defending the Miriam’s rezone. In my 31 years of land use litigation and the same number of years in exclusive land use practice by Oh-Oh’s co-counsel, Michael Gendler of Seattle, we know that municipalities do not defend land use permits for developers. The developer has all the profit to gain from the land use decision and virtually all municipalities let the developer bear the defense costs of a land use challenge to his rezone. But not our mayor and council. They spent your money defending and now complain that the money was wasted.

Perhaps the money would have been better spent, Mr. Clay, in purchasing the Big Rock land when it came on the market for $72,000 and making it into that park that the town’s Park and Recreation Commission identified in 1996 when they recognized that location as desirable for acquisition and creation of what would have been the only Town Park south of the SR 20 intersection. That, Mr. Clay, would have been a much better use of the $100,000 you complain of wasting. Or, you could have just failed to follow the advice of your Park and Rec Commission, let the Meyers’ defend their land use permit as all other municipalities typically do and saved that $100,000 of the citizens’ hard earned money.

Okay, that’s it. I’m not affiliated with any of the candidates running for office but here are two good reasons to have a total regime change in the upcoming election. I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to preserve what little is left of the Central Whidbey that I grew up in and love. I’ve never done any of this for profit, only out of my desire to retain our small historic town and surroundings. If you like Coupeville, what’s left of it, the way it is, I suggest you vote the incumbents out of office, one and all. Alternatively if you are enjoying the increase in noise, business, lines at the SR 20 intersection, with much bigger lines coming soon from the 60-plus lots and condo units recently approved. Keep the status quo in office and you will get more of that enjoyment from high density growth and commercial developments guaranteed by the present mayor and council.

Ken Pickard, an attorney, lives in Coupeville.

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