By Meg Olson
The Point Roberts water district is looking for a new home as Best Time RV moves to the Point Roberts Realty building at 79 Tyee Drive, the building that has housed the district for the last 20 years.
“We are moving to a larger location to match the increased business we are expecting in the coming year,” said Best Time RV vice-president Neal Klass.
While Klass was unwilling to share the number of rentals that had come and gone from the Point in their first year operating a branch here, he did say that “our 2017 season went very well.”
Klass was also unwilling to say if the company was buying or leasing the Tyee Drive property.
The property is the only parcel on the Point zoned rural general commercial (RGC). Other commercial properties fall under the resort commercial or small-town commercial (STC) or resort commercial zoning designations.
“We are sorry we could not stay where we were, but we needed to move to a bigger space that could support our growing business,” Klass said.
The company also had a zoning hitch at their previous location in the former Brewster’s building on Gulf Road. While “recreational vehicle service, repair, washing facilities, commercial storage or sale” is a permitted use in the STC and GC zones (with slightly broader language), it is prohibited in the STC zone along Gulf Road, meaning the company could only use the location for their office and vehicle pick-up and drop-off. Efforts to work with the county to change the code by text amendment were not pursued.
The company will not have this limitation at the Tyee Drive location provided “that all repair services are conducted within an enclosed building.” Nick Smith with Whatcom County planning and development Services said Shant Tersakian had approached the county on behalf of Best Time RV about erecting a building to accommodate those functions, and was told it wasn’t quite that easy.
“Right now, the county can’t permit a building for RV storage” or repairs, Smith said, because of a gap in the code that covers building sizes in a Local Area of More Intense Rural Development (LAMIRD); all of Point Roberts falls under that designation. The state Growth Management Act mandates that building size in a LAMIRD needs to be consistent with the size of buildings that were used for those purposes when the act went into effect in 1990. Smith said the established zoning text did not list a comparable use.
County staff will propose a code amendment that would set the size benchmark to be as large as the marina’s boat repair building, he said. “We aren’t changing anything to do with uses, just buildings,” Smith said. The plan, he said, was to get the amendment in place by April but a tight timeline to meet state requirements for water rights planning following the Hirst decision could delay that.
Water district manager Dan Bourks said they had been given until March 31 to move out of their current location. The district’s lease had been operating on a month to month basis since 2008 as they made plans to build a new facility, a project still a year away.