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Town and County councils joint meeting: Ferries, water, affordable housing, Zylstra Lake trail

LWVSJ Observer Corps summary of Joint County/Friday Harbor Council September 19, 2023. The meeting can be viewed here.

During introductions, Friday Harbor Town Council Member Noel Monin said he would concede the race for his seat to Richard Geffen.

The two councils discussed a joint approach to state government about the Washington State Ferry issues impacting the islands.

County Council member Fuller reviewed the County’s extensive communication with WSF, state legislators, and officials including via the Ferry Advisory Committee. The Town presented a draft letter to the Department of Transportation seeking a joint message with the County and others, including ports, the school districts, and chambers of commerce. They agreed to pass a joint draft to other potential signers to send to the governor’s office and other state agencies in early October, after next week’s visit to the county by the governor.

They agreed to explore steps local government might take to increase services.

With affordable housing a priority for both, the town reviewed changes to the code to allow detached accessory dwelling units. They discussed ideas to increase affordable workforce housing and noted private and public sector efforts. The County reported on the use of Affordable Housing funds, plans for a 1/10th of 1% sales tax for affordable housing, and where things stand on the Argyle project. They are negotiating the lease with the developer, who then will begin design and town permitting.

The town administrator reviewed the town water situation covering, supply, water rights, and treatment capacity. The town smart program has greatly improved water management, reducing leakage losses. As water demand grows due to climate change and housing development, the town needs a fourth water filter soon and must replace the treatment plant in the coming decade. The town is concerned about use of its water outside town limits.

Residences in three areas beyond town limits that can use town water, but not if they are permitted as vacation rentals. The county agreed to notify the town when such addresses get a vacation rental permit.

The town is concerned that the county issues building permits for properties intending to use hauled water as its supply. Most hauled water is purchased from the town, but with sea level rise and more frequent droughts, increased demand for hauled water stresses treatment capacity and potentially supply.

Water haulage for Hannah Heights significantly increased demand for hauled water.

The two sides agreed to work together to better understand how best to manage projected future demand.

The town asked for more communication about water use at the County Fairgrounds which are outside town limits.

The town faces difficulties in financing a new wastewater treatment plant.

State Representative Lekanoff is coming October 13-14 to talk about grants for water, wastewater, and sewage.

The County updated the town on the Zylstra Lake Trail project, still in early planning stages.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.


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