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Taxpayers money wasted on Peterson's request

Despite the fact that state law actively prohibits it, Kevin Peterson wants to hook up a new residence in the White Point neighborhood to Roche Harbor's waste water treatment system. A Quixotic whim but harmless enough when confined to Mr. Peterson’s cranium.


What happens in Mr. Peterson’s head only becomes a issue when it starts to drain the County’s scarce resources. What amount of taxpayers funds should be expended on one citizen's request for something that is clearly prohibited by state law?

Apparently two years of badgering Department of Community Development staff for more information and a constant stream of phone calls and meetings with Council Chair Bob Jarman results in being given almost an hour to present your case to the Council. At this point Peterson’s whim has only cost the taxpayers between 25-50 hours of Staff’s time but should Council pursue it, the legal costs alone could be astronomical.

Peterson’s misguided presentation stirred the Council to action and now the Director of Health and Community Services will be required to take time away from actual public health issues, such as the frightening low numbers of vaccinated children in the county, and tell Council that the desire to avoid building a septic system does not constitute a bonafide health emergency.

What he shouldn't be doing is wasting taxpayer money demanding something that is not possible. He is not being stopped from building, he has a permit for an approved septic system. Again this is a request for something it is not in the county's power to grant. State law says: RCW 36.70A.360 (2) Capital facilities, utilities, and services, including those related to sewer, water, storm water, security, fire suppression, and emergency medical, provided on-site shall be limited to meeting the needs of the master planned resort.

A Master Plan Resort is treated like other Urban Growth Areas. The Town of Friday Harbor, Eastsound and Lopez Village, all UGAs, must have urban levels of services - including water and sewer. To prevent sprawl the state does not allow these services to extend to properties outside the UGA boundaries. (Some properties do have such services since they are grandfathered in.)

Peterson wants the county to treat his neighborhood and any others where parcels are less than an acre as urban. Since UGAs can only be expanded to contiguous parcels, to meet his concept of how the county should be, a hodgepodge of small UGAs each having urban levels of services would need to be created throughout the islands.

The rest of the citizenry may have a problem with such a ludicrous proposal.

There are also villages and hamlets in the islands. These are Limited Areas of More Intensive Development (LAMIRDs). Villages, hamlets and cross roads are included in this category. Orcas Village, West Sound and Deer Harbor on Orcas Island are examples. They do not require urban levels of service.

These are created to allow infill within their boundaries at a density not allowed elsewhere in the islands. Each LAMIRD has development standards and restrictions. A residential neighborhood may be part of a LAMIRD, however, a stand-alone subdivision cannot be one.

Urban level of services in UGAs can be provided by the municipality, private systems or a combination. In Eastsound, Eastsound Water and Sewer District provides the services. Lopez Village is served by more than one purveyor. The Town runs a waste water treatment plant.

So what can Peterson do to obtain his desired hookup to Roche's system. He can ask the resort to reopen its Master Plan to include properties in his neighborhood. He can lobby for a change to state law.

Another way to avoid having an individual septic system would be to convince his neighbors to construct a community waste water system. The Homes for Islanders developments - including Rocky Bay and Leeward Cove - have done so. The White Point neighborhood could do this if the neighbors so desired and wanted to pay for it.

The County Council should ask county staff for the relevant regulations and not be acting on misinformation provided by Peterson.

The Council needs to find the backbone to stop pandering to individuals.

- Sharon Kivisto editor@sanjuanislander.com


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