7/8/2015 11:28:00 AM Shelter Bay vote count
A week from today, ballots of Shelter Bay homeowners will be tallied to determine whether the community should go ahead with a proposal to negotiate a new 75-year lease with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. If 50 percent plus one vote “yes” in the non-binding advisory vote – the work to craft a new lease under the terms the tribe has set will move ahead. If the majority vote is “no,” the process might be slowed down. The lobbying on both sides, “yes” and “no,” has been intense. Besides the higher land lease cost, which everyone expects, one sticking point between the two camps is that the tribe wants the new rent based on the value of the “finished subdivision.” In the existing lease, which expires in 2044, the rent is based on the value of the raw land beneath the Shelter Bay development. Last week Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby sent a four-page letter to homeowners explaining the tribe’s position on the change to lease calculations. In his letter, Cladoosby said that when the 1968 lease was negotiated the tribe and individual tribal landowners actually shared the cost of “dredging and filling the estuary that is now the marina, clearing land and installing roads and utilities, marketing and selling subleases,” by charging the developer “very substantially reduced rent for the first decades of the lease.” The cheap rent amounted to “just $2.58 per month per lot,” for the first quarter century of the lease, Cladoosby’s letter stated. “Those subsidized rents allowed the development of the successful Shelter Bay development that we see today,” Cladoosby wrote. According to the original lease, when it expires in 2044, all the infrastructure that the tribe “helped pay for during the first decades” of the lease will revert back to the tribe and individual tribal landowners. Instead, the Swinomish Senate has proposed allowing Shelter Bay to continue as a residential development with a new 75-year lease. Over the next few decades, the rent will ramp up to a yearly value equal to 7 percent of the value of the finished subdivision. In 2013, the most recent rent-adjustment year, the raw land value of Shelter Bay was set at $29.2 million. Based on Shelter Bay Community calculations, the finished subdivision value was $120 million in 2013. Using the 7 percent rate with those 2013 figures, the raw land rent would be just over $2 million per year and the finished subdivision rent would be $8.4 million.