If you own a waterfront parcel in the County, or hope to purchase one, I have detailed below some items to take into consideration. Historically, waterfront parcels were the most coveted investment in the islands but due to ever changing regulations, they are now the most confusing parcels to develop. For REALTORs they can be a challenge to sell due to our inability to give buyers concrete answers to their questions while on site.
Once you purchase a waterfront lot it is prudent to move forward with your plans as soon as possible as the regulations in the future may change and what you had hoped to build at the time of acquisition may not be approved in the future. The County has said they will never render a parcel unbuildable, but regulations may restrict the size of residence and dictate the location of where you can build on the lot.
Residential Pre Application (RPA)
This is a conceptual approval of the footprint for the residence under the rules that exist at the time of review. While the RPA report is non-binding on the County, constructive reliance can be used for planning your new home including the home site, setback, tree removal, the location for the driveway, and well and septic, if applicable. This is a valuable tool to utilize upfront so that your design team and contractor have solid direction from the County early in the process.
Your designer or architect may process the RPA for you as part of their service. If not, you can hire a land use consultant. The cost to process an RPA with a land use consultant is around $1400-$2000 which includes County fees.
As an RPA is not binding, and in light of, constant regulation changes, one should only be used for near term planning. To bind or vest your project under the current rules, a complete permit application must be submitted to the County. Once the application is deemed complete, that becomes the effective date prescribing which version of the regulations shall apply.
Read the full article at: http://sanjuanislandslifestyle.com/blog/
Merri Ann Simonson
Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands Inc