Origins of ordinance may have begun with couple’s stakes

Jerry and Kathy Townsend stand among the stakes they placed in the middle
of property they own at the corner of Josephine Avenue and Milwaukee Street.
After Jerry retired from a commercial fishing business and Kathy retired from
Boeing, the couple have shared homes between Terry and Port Angeles, Wash.

By Kay Braddock 

When Jerry and Kathy Townsend pounded a few stakes into the ground, they had no idea the commotion it would cause. 
The retired couple, who have shared residency between their homes in Terry and Port Angeles, Wash., for the past five years, say they were toying with the idea of building cabins on 12 lots they own at the corner of Milwaukee Street and Josephine Avenue. The empty lots are located just north of their 815 Josephine Avenue home. 
The couple began measuring and staking out their property in September or October, shortly after Jerry drafted sketches of 24-foot-by-48-foot cabins. They were attempting to find out how far the town’s 80-foot street easements fall into their property and how much room they had to work with for building.
“In the middle of all of this we just dropped the project,” Kathy said. “We got busy with other activities. We never went back to the project.”
But in the meantime their stakes in the ground, tied individually with orange ribbons, caused a bit of a stir. 
Kathy recalled recent trips downtown where she was repeatedly questioned about the couple’s building plans. The couple gathered from some of those conversations that their stakes in the ground may have been one of the reasons behind the town’s decision to consider an emergency ordinance to prohibit the building of multi-unit housing.
In an email to the Tribune, Town Attorney Rebecca Convery confirmed that the Townsend’s proposed project is “only one of many such projects that the Town Council anticipates it will have to address if the XL pipeline goes through.”
The Townsends explain their plans were in the very early stages of contemplation. The couple hadn’t even talked to town officials about building permits because they say they were far from that point.
“I wanted to see what I could do out there,” Jerry said.
“We’re not doing anything,” Kathy said. Jerry mostly agreed.
“It was just an idea,” Jerry added.
“This is beautiful here. I just love it,” Kathy said. “If we ever do, we would like to build in a good way.”
Although the couple laughs about the miscommunication in this situation they point to an easy solution for anyone questioning what their future building intentions might be.
“Stop by for coffee and chit chat and just ask,” Kathy said, smiling. 

Published Nov. 9, 2011

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