Governors Point future

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Fri, May 30, 2008, 1:22 pm  //  John Servais

What should be the future of Governors Point? We can read a lot of what it should not be - developed. But Rand Jack has said it is too costly to purchase and save in a natural state. What options are there for us - and the owners - that are viable?

Oh, I love its natural state. It is equal to Clark Point which that family put largely into protected open space. Governors Point has one home on it - and I'm one of very few people to have ever been to it. It is a beautiful Japanese style home, with the Madrona trees left in place around it and it fits into the natural setting. It is breathtaking. Very low impact.

I hope with over 50 registered commenters that we will get some posted ideas. This site does not require heavy research and fact checking before you post. I'm writing this on the spur of the moment and in about 5 minutes. I hear only good comments about what I am trying here - but the page almost dies some weeks for lack of activity.

So - what are the practical, environmentally sane and economically viable options for this treasured bit of land? Anyone?

John Watts  //  Fri, May 30, 2008, 3:46 pm

Water service from the City will not be supplied, nor will sewer service, both of which are essential for this level of development in an area already severely challenged by safe road service, potential for landslides and other problems that ought to be obvious by now.

In the distant past, the City did unwisely extend water service down Chuckanut Drive, but this practice has been terminated -with a few limited exceptions, for all intents and purposes.

And, its not likely the idea will be seriously considered again anytime soon because of GMA requirements and the City’s current policy that respects the limits imposed on extending urban levels of service outside of urban areas.

The Chuckanut Drive area in question clearly does not qualify for Urban Growth Area status, or even its precursor, a Five-Year Review Area. And, with the current Land Supply flap in adopting a new UGA areas in its Comprehensive Plans, Whatcom County has taken issue with the inclusion of ANY more land into the City’s UGA!
This does not bode well for the County to agree to creating a new urbanized area, particularly ay a place like Governor’s Point, for the foreseeable future.

As far as a desalination plant is concerned, it is ironic that its additional cost would only create pressure on the developer to build more elite, gated mega-homes, not less.

Then, will come the requirement to handle the sewage - ordinarily about 80% of the water service. I doubt that the sandstone that underlies this area will accept raw sewage very well either, which would mandate either a new sewage treatment plant, or a contract to haul septic wastes to the City for treatment.

Then, there is the matter of transportation! For starters, railroad crossing at grade, then a narrow access road, competition with traffic to the existing public boat launch at Larrabee State Park, the winding, scenic 2-lane Chuckanut Drive itself, and finally the impacts on the roads and bridges already either approaching or anticipated to exceed LOS F in the City.

Of course, these latter hurdles are already being faced by the proposed Fairhaven Highlands development in an area within City Limits and zoned for urban density!

The Sahlins do seem to have a propensity for choosing beautiful properties that have inherent major difficulties to develop! While they did manage to unload the always controversial Chuckanut Ridge property to those trying now to develop Fairhaven Highlands, they now choose to try developing Governor’s Point. I hope their tolerance for pain does not exceed their common sense!

This dog won’t hunt, so why not make a very special deal with the Whatcom Land Trust and collect tax write-offs forever? That would help the financial considerations for both the owners and the public, without unduly burdening either party - or that silent third party, the environment!

I’ve heard enough of this silliness to know its all part of a big game of ‘Let’s Pretend’.
But, hey, if you don’t ask your likelihood of success is way lower than if you do, and the County has been known to do dumb things from time to time!

John Palmer  //  Fri, May 30, 2008, 6:41 pm

Doesn’t this type of development require a zoning change.  If so the public input to zoning changes should allow it to be stopped.  Not the case I know from experience.

Even then the sewer and strom water requirements should still be able to kill this if the county would enfore them. 

Also the county should not be resonsible for improving the road.  Road improvement (or alternant transportation Ha Ha) should be the responsibility of the developer. 

I haven’t seen any comments on how the development will meet shoreline rules. Is this another attack point?

The best solution is would be to find a mega-wealth individual who recognized this unique land as a single owner home.

Tom Pratum  //  Mon, Jun 02, 2008, 1:27 am

First, I wonder if Governor’s Point will actually be carried forward. I think we remember the property above the Post Point heronry that is also slated for development by the same owners, is very contentious and controversial, but has yet to be developed. I think it is possible that enraged citizens will discourage the owners from proceeding - or at least will delay them.

However, I hope that what happened to Chuckanut Ridge does not happen here. There, the property was sold when it became too much of a “hot potato”, as John W points out above. We might like who the new owners turned out to be even less.

If the property is to be developed, it seems like one thing that could be squeezed out of the owners is public access. There is a lot of shoreline that is all private in the development plans, and there is no public access to the open space in the development. I am sure I am not the only one who has kayaked past there and stopped to rest for a minute or two….. Maybe we can even get them to set aside a park of 30 or so acres in exchange for the allowance to develop the rest.

In partial answer to a question above by John Palmer, this area is zoned RR3 and they are proposing to develop at a much lower density than that. I think they have a vested plat that would get them past any recent changes to shoreline rules.  It is interesting that the rest of Chuckanut is zoned RR2; one wonders what kind of deal someone made in the past to get the zoning RR3 for just this property. However, it should be zoned R5 - it is in one of those LAMIRDs that the county is supposed to be rezoning to satisfy a GMHB challenge of its comp plan by Futurewise; not that this will make any difference in this vested proposal.

Tom P.

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