It pays to move here years ago

There’s no substitute for having moved to the island years ago. If you did, your chances were much better of getting the best building lot, the choicest view – and the fewest land use restrictions.

Along those lines, Wednesday’s article on the local strategies for tree retention included a statement to the effect that once a tract of land is subdivided, restrictions on tree-cutting disappear. But eagle-eyed reader Kelly Samson pointed out that the statement was in error.

How does he know? Because the large-lot subdivision he is developing in the island’s south end contains restrictions on tree cutting – generally under the rubric of designated private open space – that are included in the deeds.

This was confirmed by city planning staffer Steve Morse, to whom the misinformation was erroneously attributed.

Current ordinances contain a fairly complex web of restrictions on tree cutting, Morse said. But on lots created prior to the present rules, and that are no longer subdividable (meaning lots that are already the minimum size allowed by the applicable zoning regulations), there are generally no restrictions on tree-cutting.

The result: a newly subdivided tract may contain significant limitations on clearing, while an adjoining piece of land, identical in every way except the date it was subdivided, may have no restrictions.

Does that possibility of disparate treatment mean we shouldn’t have land-clearing restrictions? We don’t necessarily think so. Some folks argue, convincingly, that the “old Bainbridge” look most of us prize was created by those who cut however much or little timber they wanted. On the other hand, one reason the cleared meadows are so attractive is because they provide relief from the woodlands. Would they be so desirable without the contrast of island forests?

We look forward to a vigorous and respectful discussion of tree-retention strategies, from all sides of the issue. But we wanted to clarify the record as to why some private properties may be cleared, and others won’t be.

Early arrivals will always have certain advantages. For the rest of us, we can still be thankful we’re here at all.


Thanks to readers for positive feedback on Wednesday’s front-page use of an aerial photograph of the island.

Beyond generating some discussion in the community, it also generated quite a few inquiries about how to get a poster-size copy of the image for the office or den.

As noted Wednesday, the composite image was recorded last July by the aerial photography, um, wing of the Washington State Department of Transportation. It’s among a stock of 500,000 aerial images (dating back to 1936) held by the department. Anyone who wants to purchase a copy should contact James Walker at (360) 709-5550.

Thanks again to Mr. Walker and WSDOT for making the image available to the Review, and to the Bainbridge Island community.

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