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Community Action set to continue move to Burlington

September 12, 2018

BURLINGTON — Community Action of Skagit County is planning to proceed with its move to Burlington after the city addressed a dispute over a potential hygiene center.

In a Sept. 6 news release, Community Action announced the city’s completion of a review of its building code in which the city found the nonprofit in compliance with zoning rules even if it built a small hygiene center at its new Burlington headquarters.

The review process, called a code interpretation, was requested by Community Action in July and was completed by the city at the end of August, Community Action Executive Director Bill Henkel said.

“The bottom line is our proposed use can move forward,” he said.

Henkel said the hygiene center would be a place for clients, who are often homeless, to take a shower and wash their clothes by appointment.

The nonprofit has been planning a move to a larger building on Cascade Place in Burlington for at least a year and has been fundraising since November.

The new building would house the nonprofit’s current operations, but Burlington City Council members were alarmed when they heard Community Action may add the hygiene center.

City Council’s response — a six-month moratorium on day centers for the homeless — was called overly broad by Community Action, and Henkel said it scared away potential buyers for the current building in Mount Vernon.

“There were a lot of folks, donors, even potential buyers, who were holding back,” Henkel said.

With the completion of the code interpretation, Henkel said his job now is to find a buyer to help finance the move. He said many of the interested parties likely aren’t interested any longer.

“There was a bit of a cloud hanging over our heads,” he said.

Bryan Harrison, city administrator for Burlington, said Community Action is heavily invested in the well-being of the community, and he hopes it can proceed with the move.

“The city has a much clearer picture now of what is being proposed (at the new building),” he said.

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