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County says ‘yes’ to road settlement

Agreement spells end to Langley lawsuit

Island County and fair officials have signed off on a deal this week to end the long-running feud over Fairgrounds Road.

County commissioners approved a four-page agreement Monday to give the city of Langley an easement across the fairgrounds for a new city street.

The finalized agreement was signed earlier this week by Commissioner Mike Shelton and fair board chairman Dan Ollis.

Langley Mayor Neil Colburn said Monday he is going to sign the agreement as soon as it hits his desk.

“I am happy,” Colburn said. “We wasted enough taxpayer dollars and it’s time to move on.”

Under the agreement, the city will drop its condemnation lawsuit against the county and the county will grant the easement for the new road. The fight over the stretch of fairgrounds needed for the street had dragged on for more than 20 months.

County and city lawyers have slightly amended the language of the agreement since the deal was first announced April 23.

The city will close the street from Monday to Monday for the fair each year at no cost to the county. If the county needs the road closed during other events, it must apply for a permit and pay any required fees.

The city provided the county with proof of an easement across the Anderson family property also needed for the new city street, as well as other documents the county required.

“It’s pretty much the same agreement,” Shelton said.

The revised agreement specifically states which entity will be on the hook to pay for improvements at the fairgrounds.

Langley will pay to extend the main sewer line along Langley Road within six months along the fairgrounds property, so the county can connect the proposed RV dump station and bathrooms at its own cost. The city will also pay for new fencing.

The settlement also makes it clear that future dealings concerning the fair and Langley will be worked out between county and city officials, including changes to the zoning for the fairgrounds.

The county will also be responsible for applying for fair-related permits with the city in the future.

Other points in the agreement — including the section on road plans and the design storm-water facilities — remained mostly intact in the final version of the settlement.

The “no gripe” notice is also still in the agreement.

Newcomers will be given a “No Gripe Coming” notice when they buy a home near the fairgrounds, warning them that they live near the county fair where livestock events are held regularly.

Shelton, Colburn and city and county engineers met this week to discuss the design of the road.

Shelton said the meeting is more or less a formality.

“We meet to make sure everybody is on the same song sheet,” he said.

Colburn is also confident that the meeting won’t delay progress on Fairgrounds Road, a connector street that will lessen the traffic impacts of new development near the fairgrounds.

“We’ll have the engineering part hopefully hammered out by the end of the week,” he said.

The county has not yet recorded the easement for the street.

Before that happens, the commissioners must declare the property as surplus. However, Shelton expects it to be done quickly and is looking forward to putting the fairgrounds chapter behind him.

“It’s been a difficult time, serious negotiations,” Shelton said. “Now, the fair board can concentrate on the fair and Langley can build its road. That’s a good thing,” he added.

Ollis echoed his words.

“It is my belief that I and the fair board are very excited about the opportunity to focus our attention back to the task of putting on the 2007 Island County Fair,” Ollis said.

The new street will connect Al Anderson and Langley roads and will be a second entry and exit way for neighbors living in the area, including the people who will move into the Highlands, a new 53-home development currently under construction.

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