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FH officials issue statement on pending US Customs relocation
Submitted by the Town of Friday Harbor:
In response to concerns expressed in the media and public access at the Nov. 7, town council meeting, Mayor Lacher read the following statement on behalf of the town:
“The Town has received a number of inquiries this past week about a lease between the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and the Peterson family on the corner of First and Spring Street (Friday Harbor Center).
First, the proposed use is authorized under the downtown commercial zoning designation. Second, the town has no say or involvement in the private real estate dealing of its citizens or property owners. We insure that buildings are properly constructed; permits obtained and, once built, insure that buildings are being used for legal purposes.
The Town does not and cannot substitute its judgment for that of the property owner and we therefore will not in this instance.
We understand that a number of people believe that there are better uses for this space or are concerned by the usage of this space by the federal government. However, these concerns do not justify intervention by the town, especially when such intervention may be unlawful or construed as interference with a private contractual relationship.
The town does care greatly about the health, safety and welfare of its citizens and works to maintain a quality experience for our visitors and residents. For those reasons, we expect to work closely with the Customs and Border Patrol administration to ensure that they remain a harmonious part of the community as they have for many, many years.
The town has never had a problem in dealing with Customs and does not expect problems in the future. The town works hard to encourage all business and governmental entities that operate within our boundaries to present themselves in a way that makes us proud as residents of San Juan Island and of Friday Harbor.
The town has made an effort to reach out to the regional Public Affairs Chief for Customs to inform that office of the issues that have been raised. Chief Schreiber has expressed a willingness to hold a public outreach meeting in the near future to address the community’s questions and concerns.
Thank you for your patience and for your concern for the quality of our town.”