PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners have enacted an ordinance that will allow them to sell land directly to Olympic Community Action Programs for a housing project but chose to wait before voting on funding the planned Castle Hill project with a requested $75,000.
Commissioners David Sullivan and Greg Brotherton on Monday — with Commissioner Kate Dean absent — approved an ordinance that now gives the commissioners the ability to sell surplus land to organizations directly at market value or less when the land will be used for a public benefit.
Otherwise, land declared surplus must be auctioned off.
Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) officials plan to construct a 44-unit affordable housing facility southeast of the intersection of Seventh and Hendricks streets on land now owned by the county.
In May, the commissioners issued a letter of intent committing to making the parcel available for the project.
The county now has the ability to sell that land, once it is declared surplus, at market value or less to OlyCAP, and can do the same for other public benefit projects from here on out, which Commissioner Sullivan said was a step in the right direction.
The ordinance will be “giving them first choice, instead of putting it up to everybody for public auction,” Sullivan said.
“It’s a change in our property disposal ordinance that’s allowed by the constitution, state law, and it will be able to be used not just for this property, but future cases.”
This sets the ground work for the Castle Hill Project to move forward, in addition to the discussion about the $75,000 that OlyCAP will need from the commission to help build the facility.
Discussions on the sale of the property and on the funding will continue at Jefferson Board of County Commissioners meeting on Monday Aug. 26, but the earliest vote on the approval of either of those instances will not happen until Sept. 3, Sullivan said.
Both Sullivan and Brotherton said they plan to approve the funding, but want to give the Oversight Committee the chance to view the materials.
They gave their support for it, to give OlyCAP the chance to move forward with their applications for further funding at the state and federal level by Sept. 18, but OlyCAP needed to know they would be receiving funding by the county before then.
Sullivan said that OlyCAP seemed fine with this arrangement.
“We decided to put it off and give the joint Oversight board a chance formally to send it to their recommendations to us and approve it then,” Sullivan said.
“But we gave clear indication to OlyCAP that we will approve this and that we are in support of it, so they feel comfortable going forward and putting in a lot of effort that they have to do before their deadline.”
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].