Notes from Friends

Friends of Skagit County                                                                                                                June 2004

Member Survey Results


By Judy Dudley, Director


We sent a 2-page survey on issues that will come up in the Comp Plan update process to our ~150 members in May, 2004 and received replies from 45 of you.  Thanks for your participation, words of encouragement, and for the unexpected extra donations.

A strong majority (70%) of you, our members, want us to focus our efforts upon the County’s Comp Plan.  Note:  The cities are all required to update their Comp Plans by the end of 2005 as well. 

The following list shows the survey respondents’ priorities in descending rank order.  Answers in bold received substantially more “votes” than the other issues.

1         Farmland Preservation

2         Critical Areas Protections

3         Keep UGA Boundaries compact

4         Forestland Preservation

5         Make Planning Decisions Fair and Predictable

6         Increased Urban Densities

7         Improve Public Participation/Process

8         Transit/Transportation

9         Improve livability in towns/cities

10      Economic development

You want us to stay in business once the Comp Plan is adopted, mostly doing monitoring & enforcement/watch-dog work.  There was not a lot of support shown for having a large education program.

Sprawl problems and resource protection concerns identified by you were consistent with the answers given for setting priorities:  farmland encroachment; floodplain development; ugly sprawl; habitat; open space; and wildlife were the most frequent responses.

The following ideas were floated as possible Comp Plan amendments that FOSC might propose:  Moratorium on farmland annexations; Open space requirements; Sunset law -- review Comp Plan every 3 - 5 years; Mixed-use zoning; reduction/elimination of mandatory parking lots; "complete streets"; Historic Preservation ordinance; No more short plats in the UGAs; Moratorium on new ag zone permits; better development in UGAs; Cottage housing, Wetlands


































Inside This Issue


County Encourages Sprawl


Survey Results


Planned Giving


Comp Plan Steering Committee


Smart Growth Fosters Job Growth


Bits & Pieces


Good News from the Hearings Board


Continued on page 3

Ugly Signs


new development in rural zones and the Bay View residential UGA until the TDR program is a reality, until the aggregation of substandard lots in resource lands is accomplished, and the 20/80 population distribution goal is reached.¨



Population             Unincorp-    Incorp-     Total           Source

                                orated           orated


1995                        36,674           56,426       93,100             1

2000                        44,506           58,473     102,979             2

2003                        45,830           60,870     106,700             2

2000-03 increase    1,324              2,397         3,721

8-year growth          9,156           4,444       13,600

2005 Projection       39,116          75,519     114,635            1

2010 Projection     41,503            84,007     125,510            1

2015 Projection     43,593         94,107     137,700               1


Sources:  1 = 1997 Skagit Co Comp Plan, Table 4

2 = Argus April 21, 2004  (data cited in the Argus article were from the U.S. Census, and the WA state Office of Financial Management)




So Long, and Thanks



Joan Drinkwin and Ellen Gray have both recently resigned from the FOSC Board.  Joan served FOSC for nearly 3 years while simultaneously serving on the Mount Vernon Planning Commission, a connection which helped us to better understand the City’s issues.  Ellen Gray joined the FOSC Board 2 years ago immediately after resigning her staff position with the organization.  As staff for 1000 Friends of WA she was able to bring to us good information about what growth management advocates in other parts of the state are doing.  For the past year Ellen also served as our legal representative on numerous issues. The departure of these two women has left a big hole in our Board and they will be missed.  Our Director, Judy Dudley, will be leaving in July.  In the 2 years that she has worked for us she has helped to grow our membership, strengthen our operations, put us on a more sound financial footing, and has participated in the successful closure of several legal appeals.  THANK YOU for your service Joan, Ellen and Judy!



























Planned Giving

By Sherri Stites


Giving is one of life’s great satisfactions, especially when you know that your gifts help to improve the lives of others.  There are ways to give to your favorite charities that you may not have considered.  You may want to consider making a gift at death.

The will is the most commonly used method of making charitable gifts at death.  Other opportunities exist, however, which may be used in combination with a will or as stand-alone vehicles.

A charitable remainder unitrust or annuity trust allows a giver to receive income each year for life and make a substantial charitable gift at death.  If desired the trust may be created in a will to go into effect at the giver’s death.  The income, in that case, would be distributed to a survivor as specified by the giver in the trust agreement.

Charitable income of estate tax deductions (depending upon whether the trust is inter vivos or testamentary) result in the year the trust is established.  Other life income plans, such as gift annuities or pooled income funds, may be available.


Common Questions Regarding Wills and Bequests


1.        Aren’t charitable bequests made mainly by wealthy persons or by those with no close relatives?

Not always.  Many gifts by will are made by persons who first provide for their loved ones and of their assets to charitable interests that have been an important part of their lives. Even a small portion of a typical estate can be a very meaningful gift when received.

2.        How do people usually make such bequests?

Many simply designate a percentage of their estate to go to the charitable organization of their choice.  Others name specific property or a specific dollar amount.  Still others name one or more charities as final beneficiaries to receive whatever remains in the estate after other heirs are provided for.

3.        Should I notify a charitable organization that I have included it in my will?

This can be a good idea.  It can affect long-range planning, often in vital ways.  We are always grateful to learn of a planned bequest.

4.        Is there any danger that my bequest may not be received as planned?

Yes.  It sometimes happens due to using an incorrect or unofficial name in your will, for example, especially since many charities have similar names.  Be sure to obtain and use the correct legal name and address.  ¨






ATTENTION Growth Management Advocates!


The County Commissioners are looking for volunteers to serve on a steering committee to serve as advisors and assist with public outreach during the Comp Plan review and update. 

The steering committee will be comprised of involved citizens who are willing to reach out to a network of citizens, organizations, special-interest groups, local civic clubs, and interested members of the general public. The County has indicated an interest in having the committee represent the public at large, and “interest areas” such as natural resource lands industries, real estate and construction, environmental conservation, rural issues, growth management, property rights, housing, urban and city issues, and tribal issues.

Anyone with expertise, experience, or interest in any of the areas being addressed and is willing to communicate with and represent the interests of the community is invited to submit a letter of interest and statement of qualifications by Monday, June 28, 2004 to:

Board of County Commissioners
GMA Update Steering Committee
County Administrative Building, Room 202
700 South Second Street
Mount Vernon, WA 98273


For more information, contact:

Guy McNally, Associate Planner
Skagit County Planning & Permit Center


























































Bits & Pieces




            Sara Holahan and Brian Wetcher for organizing the 2004 Free Tree give-away.  And thank you to DNR for donating surplus trees for this event.  Many delighted neighbors showed up on a windy Saturday in April to get their seedlings.  Some of the left-over trees were donated to the Street Tree program in Anacortes .


            Joan Drinkwin for hosting the FOSC Rummage Sale.  Thank you to our members who donated items for sale.


            To all of the ARTISTS who participated in our exhibition in honor of spring.  We met many new friends and netted about $500 for our organization.  Volunteers interested in helping out with, or exhibiting at, future art shows may contact our office.  Special thanks to Debbie Aldrich for organizing the exhibit.


            Lee Mann for donating the stunning Trumpeter Swan photo for our raffle.  We made $700 on the raffle, thanks to our Board members who persevered with ticket sales.  Congratulations to Joan Drinkwin for buying so many tickets that one of them was the lucky winner.


            Sally Dixon and Glenn H. for helping us overcome so many technical difficulties with our computer upgrade this winter/spring.


            Lyle and Barbara Craner for preparing and filing our tax return.




We experienced severe “technical problems” at our office earlier this year.  We know that some phone and email messages were lost.  We know that at times there were long lags before we could reply to some messages.  We’re sorry.  We think all the problems have now been fixed.  If you tried to contact us between January and April and didn’t get a reply, please try again.




The Anacortes City Council voted to send a proposed Comp Plan amendment on Cottage Housing to the Planning Commission for review and hearing.  FOSC member Linda Sanford has been instrumental in helping to move this issue forward in Anacortes.   









































Good News from the Hearings Board

by June Kite


As the result of a legal appeal initiated by FOSC, 4-years ago the cities and county adopted a system of inter-local agreements requiring the County to adopt and implement the cities’ development regulations within the cities’ respective UGAs.  This system was to comply with the requirements for urban development, efficient timing and phasing of infrastructure, and transformance of governance.

            The Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) was not convinced that the system would work, but gave the local governments the opportunity to show that the County would adopt city development regulations in a timely manner.  FOSC subsequently argued that the inter-local agreement scheme did not ensure compliance with GMA. 

            In recent months Sedro-Woolley has gone to the GMHB to argue that the County has not cooperated or enforced their inter-local agreement.  Last week the GMHB has issued a Compliance Hearing Order which stated: Conclusion:  The County has failed to adopt development regulations within the municipal UGA’s generally, and the Sedro Woolley UGA in particular, which comply with GMA requirements for transformance of Governance and efficient phasing of urban infrastructure within the UGAs…. It is obvious after considering all of the arguments presented that FOSC was right”.

This consolidated case has a complex history and the Compliance Order outlines the history and compliance issues, both for County-wide UGAs and  Sedro-Woolley


specifically.  There are twenty three (23) points of “Findings of Fact” outlined in the ComplianceOrder.  Fact #10: Skagit County made it clear that lots will be permitted to densities of one dwelling per acre without sanitary sewer and other urban infrastructure.  Also that it would not collect impact fees nor impose the city development regulations in unincorporated UGA. 

It was pointed out that the County’s variance procedures (for which a variance from sanitary sewer and full street infrastructure is sought) results in the hearing examiner deciding on a case-by-case basis who will pay for urban infrastructure (i.e. developers or tax-payers) and when they will pay for it.  The GMHB has stated in previous decisions that the County’s current approach, which facilitates low-density subdivisions within the UGA without provisions for basic infrastructure, fails to comply with GMA.  Proposals already at the County’s permit counter would have a negative impact if the interim protections are allowed to lapse.

            The good news in the Compliance Order is that – “The County shall adopt development regulations in compliance with the GMA . . . the County shall continuously keep in place protections that prevent non-rural levels of development in the unincorporated UGA. 

A timeline has been imposed for complying with the order.  It includes: 

August 3, 2004 – Compliance deadline for adoption of measures to prevent non-rural levels of development during the compliance period

            December 15, 2004 – Compliance deadline for adoption of regulations providing for transformance of governance and effective phasing of infrastructure in UGA’s.

FOSC hopes the county will quit fighting this issue and comply with the GMHB’s orders.  Please contact the Commissioners and ask them to do so. ¨


Skagit County and FOSC have been at odds over what constitutes an appropriate sign ordinance for years.   The County continues to try to legalize all types of huge, blinking, off-premise blights.  Our successful appeals to the GMHB resulted in an invalidity order against the County for their woefully inadequate ordinance.  The Commissioners recently passed another version of a sign ordinance which we believe is worse than the one the for which the GMHB issued their invalidity order.  Unfortunately we do not have enough $$ in our legal fund to continue this fight.  We have been looking for pro bono legal help, but have not yet succeeded.  If you know an attorney who might be interested in helping us with this issue, please contact the office.  If you would like to contribute funds to help us pay for an attorney to work on this issue, please send your donation to our office along with a note indicating that it should be dedicated to the sign ordinance issue.