Mike Estes and Iris Maute-Gibson

City Planning Commission Transformed

With the appointment of Mike Estes to the seven member Bellingham Planning Commission at the last City Council meeting, and the pending appointment of Iris Maute-Gibson in April, the development industry lock on the membership is perceptibly lessened but not yet complete. Mike replaces Jeff Brown, a self-described long-term owner of multiple properties who has navigated land use issues and whose wife works for Northwest Ecological Services advising clients on wetland and shoreline permits for development. Iris will replace outgoing commissioner Tom Grinstad, a local architect whose seven year tenure ends on April 1st. Noteworthy also was the February 2016 appointment of Lisa Anderson, York Neighborhood Association Board member, who was approved by the council to replace realtor Cerise Noah who resigned.

Last year the City Council amended the ordinance on the city’s planning commission by limiting to three the number of members working in or associated with the development industry. Over three hundred citizens signed a letter to the council endorsing the change. Earlier attempts to demonstrate the development-heavy nature of the commission and to amend the ordinance were largely ignored by the council in 2014.

Mike and Iris were chosen from a field of 12 applicants, among whom eight were interviewed. The mayor described the twelve as a “diverse group of individuals with different backgrounds, including renters, business owners, a downtown resident and a WWU student.”

Mike works in the software development field and is a former chairman of the Whatcom Democrats. Iris made an unsuccessful bid several years ago to be appointed to the City Council to replace outgoing council member Cathy Lehman. She works as an Outreach and Development Coordinator for the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center.

About Dick Conoboy

Writer • Member since Jan 26, 2008

Dick Conoboy is a recovering civilian federal worker and military officer who was offered and accepted an all-expense paid, one year trip to Vietnam in 1968. He is a former Army [...]

Comments by Readers

Riley Sweeney

Mar 03, 2017
What a bunch of FANTASTIC choices for the Bellingham Planning Commission. I’ve known both Mike and Iris for many years and trust their judgement completely. I’m so glad

What a bunch of FANTASTIC choices for the Bellingham Planning Commission. I’ve known both Mike and Iris for many years and trust their judgement completely. I’m so glad that the council chose them - they will provide invaluable additions to our city’s planning. 

Dick Conoboy

Mar 04, 2017
Riley, Thanks, Good to know but the proof is in the performance.  I expect they will be representative of the citizens.  They have an excellent role model in

Riley,

Thanks,

Good to know but the proof is in the performance.  I expect they will be representative of the citizens.  They have an excellent role model in Lisa Anderson. 

Stan Snapp

Mar 22, 2017
John, Please correct “Tom” Grinstad’s name in the abover article.  I’m sure it was just a typo but we all hate to have our names wrong in

John,

Please correct “Tom” Grinstad’s name in the abover article.  I’m sure it was just a typo but we all hate to have our names wrong in print, especially when it acknowledges 7 years of volunteering for our city board. 

He came on at a time when there was a distinct lack of construction expertise on the Planning Commission. It was his first public service and he has served our community well and he deserves a vote of thanks.  

Like Dick, I’ve known Mike and Iris for a long time and they will be fine additions to the P C. 

 

Dick Conoboy

Mar 22, 2017
Stan, Thanks.  Correction noted.  Not sure where “Ted” came from!  In no way did I try to imply that the service of these individuals over the years

Stan,

Thanks.  Correction noted.  Not sure where “Ted” came from! 

In no way did I try to imply that the service of these individuals over the years was not appreciated.   But the makeup of the commission had devolved into one that was to prone to bias and groupthink given the professions of those serving.  A healthy commission has people from all walks of life, to include the development industry, to be healthy and representative.

Stan Snapp

Mar 22, 2017

Balance is good, especially with a process orientated advisory board.

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