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Obstruction Island –Checklist for Contractor or Independent Work

Obstruction Island is a special place not only because of its beauty but also the unique interdependency we all experience through our shared interest in the island’s infrastructure and environmental preservation. As property owners we have the right to develop our property while adhering to the Island’s covenants and—hopefully—best practices for successful development.

The following checklist has been developed by the Board of Directors and the Island’s membership to provide guidance and support for contractor or independent work you may wish to pursue.

1. Review and confirm that you are in full compliance with all appropriate San Juan County regulations and obtain necessary permits before initiating the work.

Note that County regulations also cover changes to the environment including removal of trees, erosion control, weed control, burning restrictions, etc.

Click here for San Juan County’s Community Development and Planning Department.

A Place in the Islands: How Private Landowners Shape the Future of the San Juan and Gulf Islands by the San Juan Preservation Trust and the Islands Trust of British Columbia is an excellent reference for examples of development that has been done while successfully retaining the character of the islands.

  1. Review and confirm that you are also in full compliance with Obstruction Island’s Covenants(click for full list).  These covenants include but are not limited to the following:

    • No residential lot shall be subdivided.

    • There shall be no more than one principal dwelling on each lot, but other structures necessary for the convenience and comfort of the owner will be permitted.

    • No part of any building or structure on residential lots shall be placed within thirty feet

      of any lot line, except by written agreement with the adjoining owner.

    • Residential lots shall be used only for residential purposes, provided that commercial activities incidental to residential use may be permitted only by approval of a shareholders meeting of Obstruction Island Club, Inc., or its successor.

    • There shall be no activity which causes objectionable noise, odor or appearance, nor shall anything be done on Obstruction Island which may be or may become a nuisance or hazardous to others.

  2. If this is new construction, contact the Secretary of the Obstruction Island Board to obtain a water certificate.

A hook-up fee of $3,500 must be paid before the Certificate will be issued. The fee should be sent to the OIC Treasurer for deposit in the Water Certificate Reserve Account.

  1. Contact Obstruction Island’s water master (Norton Smallwood) to discuss possible issues and to coordinate work if you are impacting the water lines upstream of your lot’s water meter in any way. For example, the water line is being shut off; you are repairing or tapping into the water line; or are you anticipate using excessive water (> 150 gallons/day).

  2. Hire contractors with solid experience working on islands without ferry access and strong references – preferably well regarded experience on Obstruction Island.

    • There are many excellent contractors and service providers in the San Juan Islands. Ask fellow islanders for references and tips to manage costs and increase your chances of completing a successful project. As of 2016, a list of contractors and members’ experiences is being developed on the community website Click Contractor ReferenceWorksheet (will require member log-in).

    • Consider notifying neighbors and other islanders of the services you are considering to see whether there may be interest in sharing services and costs.

  3. Review all Island access routes and staging areas with your contractor to gain their assurance that equipment choices will have the least impact on Obstruction Island’s docks, loading areas, roads, community spaces, and your neighbor’s property. General considerations include:

    • Trucks that require special permits for transport on public roads due to their weight, height, or width are not appropriate for Obstruction Island due to the risk of damage.

    • Transport of any heavy equipment along island roads during excessively wet periods can cause considerable damage that is expensive and difficult to repair.

    • There are no community staging areas for equipment and vehicles arriving or departing by barge. Be aware of any extra time needed to transport equipment to the barge.

    • If your contractor is doing multiple jobs on the island, you’ll need to coordinate with others to figure out which property owner is responsible for storing equipment prior to barging off island.

    • In several places on the island the island easements cross private property. Be sensitive that transit is a courtesy.  The community agreed in 2015 that no work on or improvements of easement on private property would be done without prior approval of the property owner. 
    • As the contract leads (contractor, owner) may not always be on the island, make sure that the crew or those handling equipment are fully aware of the island’s policies.

  4. When transporting materials and equipment follow these guidelines which were adopted in a 2016 community resolution:

    • Notify the Secretary of the Board or President before bringing heavy equipment or materials onto the island; they may be aware of any potential conflicts arising from the type of equipment, timing, island road conditions, or other construction activity.

    • Construction vehicles must not be stored on community property, within wellhead protection zones (see below for link), or on another members private property.

    • Measures must be taken to prevent damage to private and community property, and repair any damage incurred.

  1. Review these other important issues with your contractor before work begins:

    • Ensure that you are aware, and notify contractors of all relevant property boundaries –including neighbors and community areas. Provide contractors with either an in-person walk through or schematic drawings in writing.

    • Confirm the location of all water, electrical and phone lines and ensure that there is no risk of this critical infrastructure being damaged.

    • Ensure everyone involved in the project knows the location of critical water shut off valves in the event of an emergencyClick Water System Map (will require member log-in).

    • Ensure that work involving activities or equipment that have the potential to ignite a fire are avoided during dry summer months, and that full safety precautions are in place(including sufficient fire extinguishing equipment).

    • Respect your neighbors by notifying them of any impact the work may have on their enjoyment or use of the island, including; availability of water or electrical service, noise, or access.

  2. Review and confirm the following, after work concludes:

    • Review the job after completion to document and repair all road damage, or other damage to Obstruction Island properties, infrastructure or community areas.

    • Consider updating the Obstruction Island contractor reference worksheet with your personal experience.


Wellhead Protection Zones
The Wellhead Protection Zones for the island's two wells are mandated by the Washington State Department of Health.  The one year zone describes a travel boundary for ground water and curbs microbial, viral, and chemical contamination that could conceivably seep from a source point to the well within a twelve month period.  Since microbes and viruses would not survive longer, the five year and ten year zones protect against chemical contamination.  In our woodland environment, the most likely source of chemical contamination would be construction equipment and other vehicles. 
Click here for Wellhead Protection Zones Map (will require member log-in).


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