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Home » Archives » September 2005 » BOCC May Impose Building Moratorium

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09/29/2005: "BOCC May Impose Building Moratorium"


ig-Paul_Halverson-1 (12k image) Bob Henigson addresses BOCC, & offers money to speed up planning)

Responding to continuing requests by the Deer Harbor Citizen Committee for the BOCC to impose a development moratorium on land use and construction activity in the Deer Harbor section of Orcas island, Alan Lichter made a motion, for discussion purposes, to impose a six month "full freeze" moratorium on the Deer Harbor area. After discussion by the Board with attorney Randy Gaylord, it was decided a draft ordinance should be prepared for Board review.

The issue of new regulations for Deer Harbor has been before the Board for a number of years, and the request by the Deer Harbor Committee for a moratorium is a result of the length of time it has taken for the County to finalize new development regulations; not only for Deer Harbor, but also Orcas Village and Olga. Because of concerns that large scale commercial development will take place before there are new regulations in place to control it, the Committee has been pressing for a moratorium.

Because of the work load of the SJC Planning Department, progress has been slow, and in an effort to speed up the process, a member of the Deer Harbor Committee, Bob Henigson , offered $5,000.00 of his own money to go toward the cost of retaining a private consultant to complete the work necessary to create a Deer Harbor Activity Center. While the Board was thoughtful about the offer, they were concerned the consultants bill would exceed the amount offered, and also pointed out it would be necessary for the County to hire the consultant, and to control the process.

Prosecuting Attorney Randy Gaylord had been asked by the Board to review the proposal for a moratorium, and inform and advised the BOCC as to what extent a moratorium could be imposed. Gaylord reported back to the board that state law allows for a moratorium, but that a public hearing will be required, and that the duration of the moratorium cannot exceed six months, after which a new public hearing can be held, and the moratorium can once again be extended for a new six month period; but in each case the Board will have to produce findings of fact that justify their action. What the Board cannot do is simply impose a moratorium without justification, and a public hearing on their rustication that a need exists for a moratorium.

Gaylord also advised the Board that a ban on all development opens the County to possible legal action with respect to taking "takings" of the rights of property owners, but by listing exemptions -a "safe harbor"- to the moratorium, the possibility of successful legal action is reduced.

After hearing from Gaylord, the Board directed him to prepare a draft ordinance for Board review.

After all was said and done, it still appeared doubtful that a moratorium will address all of the concerns of the Deer Harbor group, since under state law a moratorium will not include lands within the shoreline, and much of Deer Harbor is within 200 feet of the shoreline; an area that is legally defined as being shoreline


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