7/22/2015 8:54:00 AM New Shelter Bay
lease moves forward
More than two-thirds of the homeowners who cast ballots in Shelter Bay last Wednesday approved negotiating a new 75-year lease with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. The count was 436 in favor of crafting a new lease, with 197 against. Voter turnout was pegged at 83 percent, with 633 votes cast out of 767 eligible voters. In order to be eligible to vote, a homeowner had to be a member “in good standing” meaning that all homeowner association fees are up to date. Shelter Bay is a gated com-munity developed on Indian reservation land leased from the Swinomish. The original lease signed in 1968 is set to expire in 2044. That means homeowners can not obtain traditional 30-year mortgages. Jennifer Thompson, a mort-gage loan officer with People’s Bank said presently lenders can write home loans with 23-year repayment terms. She said that whether 30-year mortgages will become available again after the new lease negotiated depends on how the lease is written. “There’s no way to tell until there is a lease for the underwriters to review,” she said. Shelter Bay Community Board President Anne Hays, who took office on July 1, said homeowners will be asked to vote again when the new lease is crafted. While Wednesday’s vote required only a simple majority to give the go-ahead, the next vote will take a super-majority of two-thirds to pass. She said a lease advisory committee will be formed quickly to start working with the tribe. “The process is going to be one of inclusion and communication to we can bring the community back together,” she said. Shelter Bay was in turmoil for weeks after the tribe’s terms for crafting a new lease were presented to the community last month. Some people expressed fear that the rent on the 870 lease lots, which are expected to at least double in 2023 and then ramp up yearly when the new rates would kick in, will price them out of their homes. For others, keeping Shelter Bay viable until 2089, when the new lease would expire, was the bigger concern. Under the terms of the existing lease, the land would revert back to the tribe and individual tribal landowners in 2044. Before a new lease can go into effect, it must be met with approval by the Swinomish Senate, the individual tribal land owners, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Shelter Bay homeowners. Hays had no estimate on how long the process will take, though she said the community plans to get started right away.