Notes from Friends

Friends of Skagit County                                                                                                     September 2004

Looking To The Future

June Kite, President


Skagit County announced an open period for citizens to participate in the process to update the Comprehensive Plan for 2005 as required.  Carrie Youngquist, Friends of Skagit County board member has been appointed to the Citizen’s Advisory Committee as well as Ellen Gray, who will represent 1000 Friends of Washington.  Anyone can submit comments and recommendations to the Planning Department.


Why 2005 Is Important.  --  How Skagit County will look ten to twenty  years from now depends on how we grow.  Cities expand and rural lands disappear OR cities use undeveloped lands within the urban growth areas and rural lands remain valuable resource lands of farms and forests.


All of Skagit County is governed by the County Comprehensive Plan and inter-local agreements with individual cities.  The Comp Plan of 1996, adopted in 1997 with its development regulations, contained the goals and policies to be used until the next update.  Planning for the future depends on population projections.  One goal adopted by agreement with cities was to have 80% of new population in the incorporated cities with 20% in the rural areas. 


Critical Choices

Ellen Bynum, Director


Thanks for the warm welcome I received when I assumed the director position in July.  As many of you already know, I have lived in Skagit County since 1981 and worked on various land use issues including GMA and farmland preservation.  I see Friends as a leading citizen group in Skagit County and will work with you toward preserving the rural character we all value. 


As we move into the fall harvest season and prepare for 2005, Friends of Skagit County is renewing its commitment to preventing sprawl, preserving Skagit County’s rural lands and working with communities to promote sensible growth management.  We have a great opportunity to create an updated Comprehensive Plan that strengthens the laws that protect Skagit County with the 2005 Comp Plan update process. 


Rural lands, zoned agriculture, rural reserve and rural resource, make up 182,321 acres of Skagit County.  The current law could permit a minimum of 17,066 developments.  If these are allowed to proceed, we can rename the valley Kent II.


Land Use Designations & Acreages (Chapter 4-3)

Zoning         Total Acres   Size        Use     # Developments

Resource Ag  94,930        40A min.     1/40*                     2373

Rural Resource  27,850        10A min.   4/40***               2785

Rural Reserve    59,540        10 acre       2/10***         11,908


Acres  182,321                Possible developments  17,066**

 *CaRD for co-housing

**Additional developments allowed using CaRD

*** permitted with CaRD


You all know the urgency of the situation.  Every month as you drive along Fir Island, out to Edison or up river, you can see new houses.  Every house represents an acre that will never again be available for agriculture or forest production.  Some of the houses are built on lots that were created 30 years ago.  The County’s Farmland Legacy program can purchase these rights off of agricultural land, if it has enough money.  The challenge is whether we can purchase enough rights fast enough to stop the loss of our rural lands.

Continued on page 2




































Inside This Issue


Looking To The Future;  Critical Choices


Cause for Concern:  Reviewing Forest Lands; New Board Members


2004 Challenge Grant, FOSC Annual Meeting, Welcome Back, Ellen Gray!


Bits & Pieces;  Comments & Testimony


2005 Comp Plan Update Action;   Legal Fund;  Fall Art Show & Sale

“In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create but by what we refuse to destroy.”  John Sawhill
























Cause for Concern –continued from page 2


The CAC met only once, in January 2004.  Plans were laid for monthly meetings due to the urgency of the results, but not a single meeting followed.  Members of the CAC expressed their initial thoughts at the only meeting and wrote up their comments which were submitted to the county.  The consultant accurately summarized the comments in a following product but their recommendations to the county restated their own views, omitting member comments.    The CAC stressed that if the designation criteria should change at all, it should only be tweaked. 


Perhaps the most important issue is the concept of ownership blindness.  It appears the consultant would like to down zone large landowners, both private and state, and up zone ‘smaller’ landowners’.  This view is not only biased, it has been struck down at every venue the issue has been discussed; including the original Forest Resource Advisory Committee (a unanimous vote) and later the Planning Commission.  By creating an ownership bias, in-holdings throughout Skagit County could be developed and large landowners would be motivated to fracture their properties into smaller parcels endowed with more development rights.  The big winner would be surveyors and developers, which happens to be the business of the hired consultant. 


The ‘consulting’ is not over.   Presumably we are now moving into a new Phase 3 which deals with Policy Development, Alternatives Testing and Code Development.  Some CAC members are quite concerned that the CAC could ultimately be seen as rubber stamping something they do not support.  Time will tell.







































Friends of Skagit County

 Annual Meeting

Saturday, November 13th, 2004 – 5 pm to 7 pm

WSU – Mount Vernon Research Station, Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, WA.

5 pm  Annual Meeting;  6 pm  Keynote address

Keynote Speaker - Allison Deets Program Director, Skagit Co. Farmland Legacy Program.

Please invite your friends and neighbors to come and learn how they can help save Skagit County’s farmland.















































Comprehensive Plan Update in 2005.

Every 7 years Skagit County can change the Comprehensive Plan.  We need your ideas to better protect Skagit County.


Do you have a burning issue that you’d like to  add to the 2005 Comprehensive Plan update?  What changes would make Skagit County a better place to live?  The 2005 GMA Update and Public Outreach Steering Committee will be working with county planning staff, citizens and facilitators to complete the plan update by December, 2005. 


WHY DO WE NEED YOUR IDEAS? Skagit County’s plan for allowing development and protecting the environment is called The Comprehensive Plan.  It details what activities are allowed and where.  It determines the future of Skagit County! 


The plan is at the Skagit County website: By December 1, 2005 Skagit County must update the plan to comply with the State Growth Management Act.


GET INVOLVED!   Go to the County website above and click on “FORMS” in the left side box.  Scroll to Comprehensive Plan Amendment Application Form and download the form.  Print it, fill it in and mail or deliver to Friends of Skagit County by October 20th.   If you need a form call us and we will send you one.  We will submit your forms to the County by November 15, 2004.


BE PRO-ACTIVE!  BE CREATIVE!  We are asking YOU for to provide YOUR IDEAS on how to plan YOUR county.  Think about our county and how we could plan better.  Talk to neighbors and friends to get their ideas.  Are there problems you are aware of? 


What are your problems with the existing plan and planning decisions?  Too much traffic? Increased taxes?  School crowding? Not enough public transit? Not enough bike paths?  Too much sprawl? Loss of farmland?  Not enough habitat for fish and wildlife? 









Comprehensive Plan Update in 2005 continued


Do we need stronger building restrictions on farmland and forest land?  What about a wildlife corridor plan to better protect wildlife? How about more incentives for better transportation?


Are existing residents subsidizing new development?  Should we make better use of existing infrastructure by supporting higher urban densities and infill? Should we re-zone unused commercial lots for housing?


Send your ideas or discussions by October 20th to Ellen Gray 425-308-2839 or Ellen Bynum 360-419-0988.


WE MUST HAVE YOUR IDEAS BY OCTOBER 20th! TO HELP IMPROVE OUR COUNTY PLAN!  Find additional Comprehensive Plan Update information at: and read 2005 GMA Update paragraph!¨




THANK YOU to all donors to the Legal Fund last month. 


To date we have received $650.00 to pay the outstanding legal costs of $6,138.  Bricklin, Newman Dold provided the legal expertise to appeal the County’s sign ordinance and continue with the past compliance issues in ongoing cases on Lot Certification, Transference of Governance, etc. 


Please write a check today to the Friends of Skagit County Legal Fund and ask your friends and neighbors to do the same.  THANKS!







Friends of Skagit County


Fall Art Show and Sale


Friday, October 8, 2004      5pm-7pm

110 North First #C

Mount Vernon, WA 98273


New works byTom Pickett, Maggie Wilder, Anne Martin McCool, Glenda Downs, Susan Conta, Jack Hubbard, Julie Kerwin, Julie Higgins, Paul Hansen, Rebecca Love, Thais Armstrong


Light refreshments will be served.