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Marina project idles on fumes

Vince DePillas, left, and Johnny Ohta of Seattle visited Langley Thursday, and looked at plans for the Langley Marina in Langley
Vince DePillas, left, and Johnny Ohta of Seattle visited Langley Thursday, and looked at plans for the Langley Marina in Langley's Small Boat Harbor. Having sailed in on DePillas' boat, both were eager to see development in the harbor.
— image credit: Jennifer Conway

Vince DePillas and Johnny Ohta sailed into the Langley Small Boat Harbor Thursday and were met with a rude awakening.

"We were looking for a store and boy were we shocked," DePillas said and laughed.

Making their way from Seattle to the San Juan Islands this week, both thought Langley would be a good place to call it a night, grab a bite to eat, buy a few beers and head out in the morning.

Not wanting to make a voyage to Coupeville or Oak Harbor Thursday evening, both slightly regretted stopping in Langley. DePillas said after landing in Langley, they peered through the door of the Langley Marina, not realizing the building had been condemned and has stood empty for the last several years.

"You got a great spot," he said of the Langley Marina's location, but said he was disappointed there wasn't a single store in the harbor.

The two hoofed their way up Wharf Street, and managed to grab a few items they needed for their trip before the Star Store closed their doors for the evening.

"This is like a highway," DePillas said and motioned to the waterway on the east side of Whidbey Island. He and Ohta stood and read the newspaper clippings displayed on the Langley Marina storefront by owners Linda Moore and Ginger Miller.

They asked why development hadn't started yet after they noticed the yellowed articles dated back to 2001.

"What progress has been made?" on the Langley Marina was also the question of the evening at the Langley City Council meeting July 16.

Moore and Miller attended the meeting in hopes of resolving what they say is their biggest holdup -- parking. Contemplating litigation over the lack of parking for Langley Marina, Moore went to the meeting to resolve the issue before handing the issue over to lawyers.

"I do not want to be on the other side of arbitration with the city of Langley," Moore said at the meeting.

The problem -- according to Moore -- all boils down to a footnote on the fourth page of lease agreement for seven or eight parking spaces she signed with the city. Moore said when she and Miller approved the agreement in 2001, they acknowledged that it meant fee "in-lieu" parking did not count towards the off-street parking the city requires of all businesses.

What they learned later was that their leased parking spaces also do not count towards their off-street parking requirements.

Defending the city at the meeting were Langley administrator Lynn Hicks, Mayor Lloyd Furman, and city planner Jack Lynch.

Hicks and Furman were unsympathetic to Moore, noting in the meeting that she had failed to provide documentation of her position on the parking, as well as two letters of proof of outside legal council.

Both Hicks and Furman said the city has requested those three pieces of paper several times. They also said discussing the parking issue was unnecessary until those documents arrive.

Moore promised documents would be delivered Monday, but as of Thursday, the city still had not received them.

In an interview Monday, Moore said parking was her main concern before developing Langley Marina into the store DePillas, Ohta and other boaters come to Langley expecting. She said Langley Marina will be beer, bait and tackle shop, and will feature a diner, kayak rentals, a few office spaces, and six small studio-type lodging units above.

Moore said if she is not given permission to have her leased parking count toward off-street parking, she will implement "Plan B." Plan B she said, includes three high-end condominiums, parking for the tenants' yachts on the Langley Marina pier and a few parking spaces on the building's first floor. However, she said she and her partner don't feel that plan is appropriate for Langley.

"Our vision has never been a high-end development," Moore said, "but without parking, this cannot be developed."

Moore said she hopes the interpretation of the lease can be agreed on. She said she wants to begin construction within the next 18 months.

Two other issues also to be finished prior to the development of Langley Marina are bulkhead construction plans and the interpretation of Langley's high water mark. With those two issues already in the works with with state shoreline regulators, Moore said she hopes to finalize the parking situation and move on to more serious, detailed planning.

Back at the Langley Small Boat Harbor, DePillas and Ohta made their way back to the boat. They agreed the plans for the Langley Marina sounded great, and hope to visit Langley in the future to see its progress.

"It's a perfect spot. Guy's got them in there like sardines," DePillas pointed towards the harbor. "I think the ladies' plans are good."

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