Neither fish nor fowl

Jane Stebbins Special to The Leader
Posted 9/18/19

The Port Ludlow Village Council isn’t your typical city or town council. It can’t pass legislation nor impose taxes. It’s not responsible for hiring contractors to pave roadways.

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Neither fish nor fowl

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The Port Ludlow Village Council isn’t your typical city or town council. It can’t pass legislation nor impose taxes. It’s not responsible for hiring contractors to pave roadways.

Nor does it do the same things a homeowner’s association might do, such as maintain tennis courts and swimming pools or create rules addressing architectural standards for homes.

According to Board President Bill Dean, it’s more like a support, communication and watchdog organization for the three geographical areas in the small burg of about 2,600 residents in the master-planned community.

“We don’t have the legal authority a town or city council would have,” Dean explained. “We don’t have the authority a homeowner’s association (HOA) would have; we’re someplace in between.”

The confusion often lies in that there are three entities that are geographically or somewhat legally defined in the community: the Port Ludlow Associates — the developers — the South Bay Community Association, the HOA for the south third of Port Ludlow; and the Ludlow Maintenance Commission, the HOA overseeing the northern two-thirds of the area.

Currently, there are 1,700 homes in the master plan that will eventually accommodate 2,250.

The village council was created by a group of original owners who recognized that with three entities that own different parcels and have different responsibilities, a single board could deal with issues that cross the boundaries of all.

“It’s like a trails system,” Dean said. “If you have four trail systems, and you’re marching along on a trail and it ends at South Bay but North Bay didn’t build a (connecting) trail ... The village council would have the purview over all the areas to fully connect the trails throughout the community.”

It works the same way with other committees under the council, from serious issues like emergency management, to the simple, such as the holiday lighting of the village. The council also coordinates such things as health and wellness seminars and other events so each HOA doesn’t have to host its own.

Under state law, the nonprofit isn’t allowed to charge dues, but it solicits funds, primarily as donations. Most come during board elections in October, and a full half of that revenue is spent on elections and insurance for trail and other amenity maintenance workers, Dean said.

Of the nine board members, seven are elected and the other two are the presidents of the two HOAs.

The board is unique, in that it maintains strong ties with the county. A representative from the county regularly attends board meetings to address community-wide issues such as aerial spraying, wildfires, the duties of the new county code enforcement officer, the proposed roundabout on Highway 104 — last spring, even discussing with the local grocery store’s owner the idea of enhancing the selection of healthful food choices.

In its watchdog role, representatives of the council recently spent two years keeping an eye on the developer’s decision to clearcut parts of the community, an issue that bounced between officials in Port Townsend and Olympia, culminating in a legal settlement in which the developer agreed not to clearcut anything while the master plan is still under the development agreement.

Most issues require a lot of studying and reporting back to the community, Dean said.

“We went to Olympia, one (board member) attended every county commissioner meeting,” he said of the negotiations. “We really just pushed through looking at the way the law was written, what it intended. We became the local experts on that. We were the advocate for the community to the county.”

On Oct. 3, the village will hold board elections; on the ballot are Sally Franzel, Jim Moffitt and incumbent Treasurer Paul Hinton.

Hinton is a U.S. Air Force veteran and retired American Airlines pilot, as well as an attorney. He discovered the Peninsula while riding a ferry boat, calling it the best ‘E-ticket’ ride anywhere.

Moffitt, a Houston, Texas native, moved to Port Ludlow in 2017 and works in the international chemical industry. He admires the volunteer attitude of people in the area and hopes to contribute to that.

Sally Franzel, a retired certified financial planner, moved to Port Ludlow to escape the heat, humidity and bustle of New Jersey; she would like to use her administrative skills on the village board.

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