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Coupeville port to surrender more than $350,000 worth of development rights

Laura Blankenship, Marshall Bronson and Benye Weber, commissioners for the Port of Coupeville, pore over appraisal documents concerning a conservation easement at the Greenbank Farm.  - Nathan Whalen / The Record
Laura Blankenship, Marshall Bronson and Benye Weber, commissioners for the Port of Coupeville, pore over appraisal documents concerning a conservation easement at the Greenbank Farm.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen / The Record

After months of work, leaders for the Port of Coupeville have a dollar amount for a conservation easement they want to place on the agricultural, recreational and environmentally sensitive lands at the Greenbank Farm.

The port, which owns the Greenbank Farm, is also giving up the development rights to two strips of property on either side of Wonn Road. An appraisal of the properties values the development rights at $359,000.

The appraisal amount comes as good news for leaders of the port and the Greenbank Farm.

“I’d say the prices came out better than the prices we’ve been talking about for the past year,” Michael Stansbury, president of the Greenbank Farm Management Group, said during a special port meeting earlier this month.

The commissioners held the special meeting to examine the appraisal amounts developed by Edmonds-based Terra Valuations.

Pat Powell, executive director for the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, presented several options for the commissioners to consider. The Whidbey Camano Land Trust is helping facilitate the process to develop an easement for the Greenbank Farm.

The commissioners agreed to surrender the development rights to 7.4 acres of land located in rectangular strips on either side of Wonn Road. In addition, the commissioners would designate the playground, which is 0.4 acres, to be moved from the agricultural zone to the commercial zone. Port officials would have to adjust the farm’s zoning with Island County to move the playground from agriculture to commercial. The playground move would give the farm a footprint big enough to construct a new commercial building.

Even though the land around Wonn Road won’t be used for commercial purposes, it can still be used for event parking and there is an option to install a park-and-ride lot at a future date.

The three-member board accepted the appraisal amount with commissioners Benye Weber and Laura Blankenship supporting it while Marshall Bronson voted against it.

Bronson voted against it because he preferred the second alternative presented. That second option would have added an acre of agriculture land to the commercial zone. It would have also lowered the appraisal to $345,000.

Officials for the Port of Coupeville and the Greenbank Farm want the conservation easement because it will add another layer of protection for the farm.

The Board of Island County Commissioners in 2011 also awarded the port a Conservation Futures Fund award up to $400,000 for the conservation easement, depending on the appraisal amount. That award would be adjusted pending an appraisal of the development rights that would be surrendered.

The formal appraisal documents will be presented to the commissioners during their Nov. 14 meeting along with a draft conservation easement. If approved, the documents will also go to Island County for approval and will be reviewed by the county’s attorney.

The conservation easement could go before the Island County commissioners for approval during their Dec. 17 meeting.

The Conservation Futures Fund award would be a boost to the Port of Coupeville, which deferred maintenance projects because of funding problems.

Blankenship said the funds would pay for some much-needed maintenance at the Coupeville Wharf.

 

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