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Standing up for your property rights in San Juan County | Letter

SJC County Code has a procedure for appealing decisions you do not think follow County Code: 18.80.140 Appeals. A daunting procedure but with careful reading, assistance from county employees, and some advice from one who has done it before it can be done without hiring an attorney.

I felt I had sufficient reasons and documentation to appeal an after-the-fact building and change of use permit to change a barn into a guest house. The barn was a pole building built illegally 17-inches from my property line. A recent department head documented that the official position of SJC was that a building permit had been issued and the required setback was ten feet from the property line. Illegally built buildings cannot be improved upon or use changed.

During my appeal, I was told my boundary line moved; I was told private agreements supersede county setback regulations; I was served two Notice Of Violations threatening fines and removal of my development permits, documents that helped my case were withheld from me and the courts or “lost” a “suggested outline” showed up in county files that reek of witness tampering and attorney malfeasance. When the county realized that I would prevail if there was a building permit for the barn they argued before the courts that there was, “No evidence of a building permit…”

We need a change of leadership. Rick Hughes has listened to my concerns but done nothing. The County Charter states duties of the council: “Section 2.31 — (c). Ensure that all actions of the County are compliant with all San Juan County codes, laws and procedures,” I can cite numerous violations of the above duties of the council. Council actions and non-actions are vigorously defended by their attorneys spending your money.

Citizens must rely on the honor and trustworthiness of their elected officials. This is why this election is important. I invite Bill Watson, Jamie Stephens, and Rick Hughes to stand up to their oath and the Charter and investigate the actions of this county and to reach out to me to discuss my concerns.

Michael Durland

Orcas Island