Town, county begin negotiations on Sutton Road

With a request on the table, the Friday Harbor Town Council has agreed to enter into negotiations with the county on a possible sale or long-term lease of a portion of its property on Sutton Road.

In a 4-0 decision, the council May 7 authorized town staff and its attorney to begin negotiations which may lead to a possible change in ownership of a 6.7-acre slice of the property, which includes the area the town currently leases to the county for its solid-waste transfer station.

County Administrator Pete Rose said the county is seeking a long-term deal on only a portion of the property because the bulk of it contains a defunct, former landfill. An extensive environmental review would be required, and potential risks and liability then weighed, if the county sought to acquire all 26 acres, Rose said.

In 2002, the town offered to sell the entire property for $750,000. The county balked at the price and instead purchased a seven-acre parcel that borders the Sutton Road site. Zoning restrictions and a ruling in court prevented that parcel, designated as agricultural land and known as the Sundstrom property, from being used as the home of the failed Trash-to-Treasure project.

Sutton Road was selected in April by the County Council as its first choice, from a list of five candidates, for the location and construction of a new — and possibly someday expanded — solid-waste facility. The council also agreed, however, that if a deal could not be reached with the town that it would pursue its second choice, a county-owned property on Beaverton Valley Road.

Meanwhile, a state-approved variance that allows the county to operate without a cover over the solid-waste facility's tipping floor, where garbage is dumped and collected, expired May 14. The state Department of Ecology, following a recent inspection at Sutton Road, has also ordered the county to put steps in place which will prevent water that drains from the tipping floor to mix with the surrounding stormwater run-off that occurs at the site.

— Scott Rasmussen

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