Friday Harbor backs UGA accord with San Juan County

Another knot unraveled last week in the fading tug-of-war over expansion of the urban growth area that borders the town of Friday Harbor.

On July 3, the town council in a 3-0 decision endorsed an agreement that calls for coordinated management between the town and San Juan County of the so-called “unincorporated UGA”. That decision was based largely on recommendation of the town planning commission.

Under the agreement, the county retains authority over development applications in the unincorporated growth area, but would be prohibited from approving projects that conflict, either at present or in the future, with the more urban land-use densities of the town. Water and sewer service -- as opposed to drinking wells and septic fields -- would be prohibited in those areas until annexed by the town, according to the pact.

The pending agreement, which the County Council was expected to endorse Tuesday, would run five years. However, it has no bearing on a potential annexation by the town of any area in the unincorporated UGA.

Previously, town and county officials agreed on the size and location of the areas which the unincorporated urban growth zone comprise. It consists of 30 acres on the southwest boundary of the town, including a section of the Harbor View Place neighborhood, and 50 acres, on the southeast border. The southeast area, known as the Buck Property, contains a 15-acre parcel where the San Juan Community Home Trust plans to build a neighborhood of affordable homes.

In the first phase of the project, 60 homes would be built with 75 percent remaining permanently affordable and available to hose of low or moderate income. However, Home Trust advocates note that annexation of the property by the town, which would provide access to town water and sewer, and its urban densities, are key to financing construction of the neighborhood.

Administrator King Fitch said the town already has received a request for annexation from the Buck Family. The application was filed in mid-June and the town council has 60 days to decide whether it will “entertain” that request, which, Fitch said, sets in motion a detailed process of studying consequences of annexation.

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