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Sub-Area Planning Process History

On July 24, 2000, Skagit County adopted Ordinance #17938, which included the 2000 Skagit County comprehensive land use plan and development regulations. The Comprehensive Plan provided:

4A-7.15 ...Skagit County shall prepare a community plan for each of the following areas that addresses logical outer boundaries for Rural Centers, if applicable, and, at a minimum, the issues indicated [below]: ...

(c) Fidalgo Island. The community plan for Fidalgo Island shall include the following: provisions for maintaining the existing rural character and lifestyles of the island; an assessment of the natural and built environment such as, but not limited to: shoreline environs, geologically hazardous areas, drainage, marine and upland water quality, suitability of soils and geology for development, fish and wildlife habitat, open space areas/corridors, transportation networks, and availability and cost of public facilities and services. The Fidalgo Island Community Plan shall also consider previous land use studies and reports in determining whether additional rural density is appropriate to minimize large-lot sprawl and to create more logical boundaries incorporating the existing RI designations.

Various parties appealed various provisions of the ordinance to the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board. On February 6, 2001, the Hearings Board issued a Final Decision and Order in case 00-2-0046c, directing the county, among other things, to "set a specific timetable for, and firm commitment to, the timely completion of this Plan. The Fidalgo Island Sub-Area Plan must be completed and found to be compliant before the CaRD urban reserve development or any other increase in density are allowed to occur on the Island" (FDO at 15).

To comply with this directive, the Skagit County Board of Commissioners approved Ordinance #18735 on August 21, 2001, a part of which adopted a proposed planning process, schedule, and tasks for preparation of a Fidalgo Island Sub-Area Plan. The new ordinance went before the Hearings Board for a compliance hearing on October 30, 2001. On January 31, 2002, the Hearings Board issued a compliance order, but both Skagit County and Friends of Skagit County moved for reconsideration.

On March 27, 2002, the Hearings Board issued an order on the motions for reconsideration, finding that the county was still out of compliance on the Fidalgo Island Sub-Area Plan and specifically ordering the county to supply the Hearings Board with “a more specific timetable for interim steps and completion of the Plan,” and setting reporting requirements every 180 days (CO at 14-18; Order Re: Motions at 2-4).

The Skagit County Commissioners passed Resolution R20030152 on April 29, 2003, "acknowledg[ing] a firm commitment to completing the Fidalgo Island Subarea Plan by July 1, 2005...absent any unforeseen circumstances beyond Skagit County's control, and to dedicate the necessary resources (staff and monies) to complete the task by such date." The Hearings Board found that promise sufficient, and adjudged Skagit County compliant with their directive to set a work plan and timetable for the South Fidalgo Sub-Area planning process in its compliance order of September 11, 2003.

On August 11, 2003, in Resolution R20030276, the Skagit County Commissioners reiterated the Fidalgo Sub-Area planning process and created Citizen Advisory and Technical Advisory committees. The commissioners appointed the following members of the CAC:

  • Ed Goodman
  • Tom Glade
  • Ken Howard*
  • Bill Turner*
  • Bill Wooding
  • Terry McNeil
  • Tom Stowe
  • Bill Dinsmoor
  • Chuck Manning

The commissioners appointed the following members of the TAC:

  • David Larson
  • Dave Cortelyou
  • James Mecca
  • Bob Bell
  • Konrad Kurp
  • Ross Barnes
  • David Pearson
  • City of Anacortes representative*
  • Tony Kubena

* Ken Howard later resigned; the commissioners appointed Michael Trafton as his replacement on November 22, 2004, through Resolution R20040404. Anacortes City Attorney/Planning Director Ian Munce eventually took the slot assigned to an Anacortes representative. At the request of a majority of the CAC, the commissioners removed Bill Turner from the CAC in February 2006 after his election to the Anacortes City Council, and did not replace him.

Skagit County and the CAC held several public meetings throughout 2004 and 2005 to discuss the planning process.

In a contentious CAC meeting on October 20, 2005, Tom Stowe moved, and Chuck Manning seconded, to recommend changing all Rural Reserve (1 house per 10 acres) zoning on south Fidalgo to Rural Intermediate (1 hour per 2.5 acres). Both the county's consultant, Roger Wagoner of Berryman & Henigar, and CAC member Tom Glade expressed strong opposition to the motion. When the question was called, CAC members Goodman, Stowe, McNeil, Wooding, Trafton, and Manning voted in favor of the rezone. Glade voted no. Dinsmoor and Turner were absent. Glade moved to have the record state that changing the zoning to a “non-rural” density was against the law.  That motion died for lack of a second.

County staff informed the CAC at its November 15, 2005, meeting that they would take the CAC's rezone recommendation to the Planning Commission, but that such a rezone was illegal and would be overturned on appeal. As directed, the county's consultant wrote the zoning change into what would become the January 2006 draft of the sub-area plan.

At an open house hosted by the county planning department on December 8, 2005, about 152 of 197 attendees indicated they "completely disagree" with the 2.5-acre rezone in an informal survey. Unpersuaded, the CAC voted at their January 26, 2006, meeting to have the 2.5-acre recommendation written into the final draft of the plan, to be ready in March 2006.

After public outcry, the county planning department declared its intention to re-engage the public in the planning process, hiring a new consultant and scheduling a public forum at Anacortes High School for October 19, 2006. Planners endured a rocky reception from residents, who took over the microphone when facilitators indicated there would be no open public comment.

Finally, the Skagit County Commissioners sent a letter dated November 14, 2006, to the citizens of South Fidalgo Island, declaring the Rural Intermediate proposal "off the table." After nearly two years of committee inactivity, the Commissioners formally dissolved the CAC and TAC through Resolution R20080510 on November 25, 2008.