Proposed ‘condo’ garages cause concern

No more storage units on Highway 525 into Freeland.

That’s the message some Freeland residents are sending to Island County planners after an Edmonds man asked the county if it was OK to build condo-style garages for recreational vehicles on the corner of Highway 525 and Mutiny Bay Road.

Opponents may be a little premature in worrying about the project, however, because the proponent of the development isn’t seeking a building permit. Not yet, at least.

Daniel Webster has submitted an application to the Island County Planning and Community Development Department for a zoning code “interpretation” that would say whether 20 individually-owned accessory garages could be built on the rural-zoned land.

Webster is listed as the applicant for the code interpretation, while Welch Logging, an Anacortes logging firm, is named on the application sign posted at the site. According to county planners, Webster has asked for an extension in buying the property, and is presumably waiting for the county’s decision on his zoning question.

Representing the buyer, Larry Kwarsick of Sound Planning Services in Langley, emphasized that no building plan has been developed.

“The prospective purchaser has applied for a code interpretation to determine whether or not such a use is even lawful. No specific plan has been developed as such would be premature,” Kwarsick said.

Residents have until July 5 to send comments to the planning department about the proposed use of the property.

A decision by county planners is expected sometime in mid-July. The decision can be appealed up to 14 days after the decision.

The 3-acre property is zoned “rural,” and a minimum of 5 acres is required for standard storage facility, such as the A-OK Storage on Woodward Road in Freeland.

Even so, some in Freeland say they don’t want to see more storage-style developments along the highway into town. Many residents have been talking in recent months about incorporating as a city, and what they would like Freeland to become in the future.

“This is how we become an area like Highway 99 in Lynnwood,” said Jan Parlier.

Lou Malzone, another opponent of the project, believes if the county approves this type of development it will set a serious precedent countywide.

“The county must consider the effect of this application countywide. This proposed land use should be prohibited in order to prevent this and further condominium-like schemes from becoming a blight in the rural zone,” Malzone said.

“Even a small amount of imagination can visualize condominium-sized storage units throughout the county because the owner is unfortunate enough to own a difficult property to develop,” he said.

Residents should not have to live near such developments and county planners should prohibit the development, he added.

Storage facilities along Freeland’s scenic stretch of Highway 525 have been a sore spot with locals in the past.

There was some controversy several years ago over the aesthetics of a storage facility on Woodward Road that overlooks Highway 525 on the north end of town. Detractors dubbed it “the great wall of Freeland.”

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