I would like to start by thanking all of you who have taken the time to submit comments regarding the County’s pending Conservation Futures Funding application for the properties adjacent to Henry Lane (commonly referred to as the Hieb property or Henry Hollow).
I apologize, but I am taking the opportunity to respond to all of you in a single email rather than respond individually. I want everyone to be up to date on the current status of the application.
For those of you who attended last weeks Community Advisory Board meeting in Coupeville, you are probably aware that the County has already taken steps towards acquisition of the property. I apologize if there has been confusion regarding the current application for Conservation Futures Funding and the actual purchase of the Hieb parcels. To clarify for everyone, in late 2008, the County took steps to purchase the two parcels, including placing a down payment and entering into a deed of trust, backed by a promissory note. However, to complete the terms of the purchase and sale agreement signed by the County, we are obligated to payoff the remaining balance to the sellers by sometime in 2011.
With that agreement in place, the Board of County Commissioners directed Planning Department staff to submit a Conservation Futures Funds application with the intent of obtaining the funds necessary to complete the purchase of the property. However, just recently the County was able to obtain approximately $300,000 in State Capital Funds, which shall be used to assist in purchasing the easternmost parcel, leaving only the shoreline parcel in need of funding. As a result, I made changes to our application for Conservation Futures Funds to include only the lower (westernmost) parcel. This change to the application was somewhat last minute and came as a bit of a shock to the Community Advisory Board. Their response during last week’s meeting was to request that we essentially restart the application process.
Restarting the process will allow for a more fair evaluation of the proposal by the members of the both the Community Advisory Board, as well as the Technical Advisory Group, who are tasked with providing recommendations based on the technical merits of the application. This reboot of the process would also allow for the County to hold an additional public meeting, this time on Camano, so that the proposal could be more fully reviewed by members of the community. The community meeting will also provide us an opportunity to discuss some of the concerns being expressed by neighbors about their existing easement rights.
Since last week’s meeting, I have received formal direction from the Board of County Commissioners to comply with the recommendations from the Community Advisory Board. Commissioner John Dean has requested my involvement in a community meeting to be held on Camano Island to further discuss the pending application and acquisition of the Hieb parcels. In addition to any advertisement in the Stanwood/Camano newspaper, I will be sending updates regarding the application and public meeting to a mailing list of all those who have submitted comments thus far. Please feel free to let anyone you know who is interested in this application that they may contact me directly for updates or to be put on the emailing list.
It is my sincere desire to see an increase in public outreach and involvement in any actions related to the purchase and future use of the ‘Hieb’ property. I do believe the current proposal to complete purchase of the Hieb property is a good one, however I think there are also some questions that need to be answered for the surrounding landowners regarding the status of their easements on the Hieb property. I also believe the community needs clarification on what the potential use of the Hieb property will be (i.e. County Park, etc.) and how that might affect their use of the shoreline parcel as well as the other adjacent land uses.
Again, thank you for your input and I appreciate your being involved in the process.
Resource Enhancement Manager
Department of Planning & Community Development
PO Box 5000, Coupeville, WA 98239