On Monday, City Council Votes “third and final” Approval of Waterfront PlanPermalink +
Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 12:33 pm // Wendy Harris
Bellingham law requires a reconfirmation vote (known as the "third and final") before a prior vote (considered the "first and second") is considered final. So the vote to approve the waterfront plan, the Planned Action Ordinance, and the transfer of publicly owned tidal lands is on the Monday agenda for the "third and final." It is rather unusual to have a "third and final" vote so soon after the first vote, in this case after one week, rather than the more standard two weeks.
Some citizens, strongly opposed to the waterfront plan that was passed last week, would like to use the "third and final" vote this Monday as the final rallying cry to turn out the public. Despite the odds, they hope they can convince the council to delay the final approval in order to consider important issues that may not have been properly vetted prior to last week's vote. I am reprinting below the letter sent to the council by local attorney Terry Weschler, a well known coal terminal activist. She admits that she had not been following the waterfront issues in the past, but after hearing about signficant defects in procedure and substance, she became concerned. Her letter is reprinted below.
December 7, 2013
RE: City Council Agenda Bill Nos.
20207 (Petition to Vacate a Portion of G Street);
20208 (Amendment to Bellingham Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Development Code for the Waterfront District Subarea Plan); and
20210 (Amendment to Title 16 of Bellingham Municipal Code (BMC) to adopt Waterfront District Planned Action Ordinance re SEPA)
This is to urge you to vote no on the referenced Bills under consideration at your December 9th meeting. If adopted, you will grant final approval on behalf of citizens of Bellingham of a Port development plan that does not represent the will of your constituents.
To date there has been much reference to “process,” but a review of the comments received by the Port and the City will reveal that the public has overwhelmingly rejected the current plan for many reasons, not the least of which are:
- · It guts SEPA requirements for future development;
- · The EIS on which the “plan” is based was piecemeal, obtuse, and devoid of adequate public input or study of environmental impacts on shorelines and local economies;
- · The EIS on which the “plan” is based violates SEPA in that the No Action Alternative was not based on the status quo but assumed the existence of a nonexistent marina that itself has significant shoreline impacts requiring review;
- · There has been no study or provisions for wildlife corridors and shoreline function;
- · It does not require construction to meet maximum LEED standards;
- · It does not require cleanup to the highest standards possible and has no provision at all to ensure no not loss through habitat restoration as anticipated 17 years ago by the Bellingham Bay Demonstration Pilot, and adequate provision for mitigation of future development;
- · There is too much emphasis on development that is commerce based (which could occur in the downtown area) and too little on the types of development the public overwhelmingly prefers which would make the waterfront a destination for residents and tourists;
- · If Washington Department of Ecology approves changes to the Shoreline Master Program necessary for upzones of the log pond and Cornwall Beach sites, the plan would unnecessarily allow non-water oriented commercial development that is more appropriately sited other than on a limited and degraded shoreline of statewide significance;
- · It transfers assets to the port without adequate compensation; and
- · The City assumes economic liability without concomitant benefit received.
The 2013 interlocal agreement, when compared to that approved in 2005 (and considered flawed at that time and subsequently), is vastly inferior in numerous respects, including but not limited to the following:
- · The 2005 interlocal agreement (IA) did not provide for the transfer of tidal lands from the City to the Port, but the 2013 IA does;
- · The 2005 IA more clearly addressed identification and siting of historic resources, specific land uses and building sites, visitor moorage, etc.;
- · The 2005 IA allowed building heights in excess of three stories where appropriate while the 2013 IA provides for building heights of 10-20 stories;
- · The 2005 IA called for reduced, limited or eliminated setbacks while the 2013 waterfront plan provides for eliminated set backs;
- · The 2005 IA required developer certainty in building permits while the 2013 IA ensures this through adoption of a planned action ordinance that vests developers and eliminates the public's right to update environmental standards;
- · The themes of habitat restoration and environmental cleanup standards resonated throughout the 2005 IA and are downplayed in the 2013 version.
Nearly a decade ago, the community hosted its own town hall meetings, or “environmental charrette,” summarized in the December 2003 and January 2004 issues of Whatcom Watch. What emerged from that community conversation was the following conclusion:
[T]hey did not want the waterfront to become an area that was solely a paved commercial enterprise. Public access and habitat uses must be integrated into the planning of not only public land, but also private areas designated as residential or commercial. Multiple-use redevelopment and small-scale building could yield results beneficial to all interests if the healthy functioning of natural processes is used as the definitive baseline for planning.
What the City council anticipates approving Monday is the antithesis of the recommendations the City and Port received a decade ago from the public, and which has only been emphasized since then in a stream of written and oral comments. Those views have been described in detail by Wendy Harris, who has publicly published on issues pertaining to the waterfront, including but not limited to:
· In Northwest Citizen
· In Whatcom Watch
o Waterfront Development Requires Lummi Approval, http://www.whatcomwatch.org/php/WW_open.php?id=1430
o Bellingham’s Dioxin Contaminated Mountain, http://www.whatcomwatch.org/php/WW_open.php?id=1521
o The Myth of Waterfront Public Process, http://www.whatcomwatch.org/php/WW_open.php?id=1560
o A Policy of Neglect: How Waterfront Plans Fail to Protect Bellingham Bay Wildlife, Part 1, http://www.whatcomwatch.org/php/WW_open.php?id=1585
o A Policy of Neglect: How Waterfront Plans Fail to Protect Bellingham Bay Wildlife, Part 2, http://www.whatcomwatch.org/php/WW_open.php?id=1594,
o The Other Eight Million Dollar Park Project http://www.whatcomwatch.org/php/WW_open.php?id=1537
Because I am new to the community and my activism was focused on the Gateway Pacific Terminal and not the waterfront plan, I have not followed nor researched the issues, and have relied on others to summarize them. My understanding is limited, but I trust members of the community who have more historical reference and understanding of the third and final actions before you now. I therefore incorporate by reference all information linked in this letter and formally introduce it into the record of this matter as issues for possible appeal.
I urge you to read the threads on the Whatcom Watch Facebook page, posted on December 3, 5, and 7, related to these issues. As of 10:45 a.m. Saturday, December 7, there are an astonishing 400 comments from dozens of community members that give you a sense of the issues of concern to the public, and the outrage felt by those who have looked closely at the proposals the Council will consider Monday.
Any cost associated with delay at this point is far outweighed by the costs associated with implementing a flawed development plan that will have repercussion for the local environment and economy for decades. Further, there is the real possibility your actions would be the subject of litigation.
For all the reasons stated above, I urge you to indefinitely table consideration of Agenda Bills 20207, 20208, and 20210, and any related funding, zoning, or other actions. It is time for real public process to begin (again) and for Bellingham’s citizens and elected officials to take the lead in defining the future for our waterfront.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration. Please accept an electronic signature as an original. If you have any questions, I can be reached at [information deleted for privacy].
Sincerely, Terry J. Wechsler
Related Links:-> Bellingham Bay Pilot Demonstration Project - started 1996
-> Whatcom Watch - Dec 2003 - Citizens Promote Friendly Waterfront - Part 1
-> Whatcom Watch - Jan 2004 - Friendly Waterfront - Part 2
Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 12:33 pm // Wendy HarrisLocal activist calls on Bellingham City Council to table the unpopular waterfront plans and engage in meaningful public process
2 comments; last on Dec 08, 2013
Fri, Dec 06, 2013, 11:03 pm // Wendy HarrisThe county will be required to consider water quality and water quantity when planning rural growth.
3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2013
Sat, Nov 30, 2013, 8:11 pm // Wendy HarrisThe waterfront plan allows a development bonus for payments made to the Lake Whatcom land acquisition fund
1 comments; last on Dec 01, 2013
Fri, Nov 29, 2013, 9:43 pm // Wendy HarrisA number of important issues need to be resolved before waterfront planning is complete, but the city council and port commission are ready to act.
2 comments; last on Nov 30, 2013
Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 9:01 pm // Wendy HarrisIf the port can not construct the airport safely, should it be entrusted with dangerous waterfront cleanup work?
Wed, Nov 13, 2013, 3:16 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city adminstration has been providing misleading/ incorrect information to the city council to avoid waterfront plan revisions.
1 comments; last on Nov 18, 2013
Sat, Nov 09, 2013, 9:47 pm // Wendy HarrisThe COB administration continues in its refusal to analyze waterfront wildlife issues, even though this is a prerequisite step in protecting wildlife from the impacts of development
3 comments; last on Nov 10, 2013
Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 2:46 pm // Wendy HarrisRequesting waterfront handouts for the Overwater Walkway while proclaiming autonomy from further public review is unjustifiable.
2 comments; last on Oct 16, 2013
Tue, Oct 08, 2013, 2:22 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city staff considers the overwater walkway a done deal before official approval or resolution of treaty right conflicts
4 comments; last on Oct 16, 2013
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 10:19 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city administration asserts that there is no gap in waterplant plant and animal analysis
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 10:01 pm // Wendy HarrisBellingham is holding an open house to introduce the public to its habitat restoration master plan, despite being at a preliminary draft stage
3 comments; last on Oct 04, 2013
Sat, Sep 28, 2013, 5:05 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city and port have not addressed wildlife impacts from waterfront development and this should be done before a waterfront plan is enacted.
Mon, Sep 09, 2013, 12:07 am // Wendy HarrisThe staff will be explaining the public's concerns, but the public is not allowed to testify.
Fri, Sep 06, 2013, 2:52 pm // Wendy HarrisElected officials continue to rely on inaccurate and misleading reports by the city and port staff regarding waterfront development.
Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 11:11 am // Wendy HarrisWhen the Bay stinks so bad that the public is calling 911, it is time to revisit waterfront redevelopment priorities
12 comments; last on Aug 19, 2013
Tue, Aug 13, 2013, 11:31 pm // Wendy HarrisThe City of Bellingham memorandum of agreement with Lynden does not make sense. What is going on?
4 comments; last on Sep 11, 2013
Fri, Aug 09, 2013, 8:42 pm // Wendy HarrisA conceptual agreement between COB and Lynden exchanges water for a new, but unneeded, water withdrawal site on the Middle Nooksack.
3 comments; last on Aug 10, 2013
Sun, Jul 28, 2013, 2:44 pm // Wendy HarrisRedevelopment of 14 acres along Lake Whatcom is contrary to the efforts to restore water quality.
1 comments; last on Jul 29, 2013
Sat, Jul 20, 2013, 3:53 pm // Wendy HarrisProposed rezone of farm land to allow meat packinghouses will undermine the long term viability of our farm economy.
1 comments; last on Jul 23, 2013
Mon, Jul 08, 2013, 4:11 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city would like to amend our city shoreline regulations to allow greater waterfront shoreline development.
1 comments; last on Jul 11, 2013
Fri, Jul 05, 2013, 9:51 pm // Wendy HarrisDoes Waterfront District planning, or public process, mean anything when it occurs subsequent to project development?
1 comments; last on Jul 06, 2013
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 7:02 pm // Wendy HarrisBellingham needs to do a better job of protecting quality of life and health impacts that flow from infill
1 comments; last on Jul 18, 2013
Tue, Jun 25, 2013, 10:10 pm // Wendy HarrisThe County wants to exempt the Birch Bay UGA from the requirement to follow current version of stormwater standards in the DOE stormwater manual.
Mon, Jun 24, 2013, 9:59 pm // Wendy HarrisThe County Council fails to enact updated stormwater standards that are 2 1/2 years overdue.
Mon, Jun 17, 2013, 5:00 am // Wendy HarrisIn what is becoming a hallmark of the Linville administration, the mayor is seeking funding for an off-site wetland mitigation program that has not yet been approved.
4 comments; last on Jun 22, 2013
Fri, May 31, 2013, 6:20 pm // Wendy HarrisIdeologically Stubborn Council Majority Ignores Existing Industrial Zoning for Slaughter and Meat Processing Operations
2 comments; last on Jun 01, 2013
Thu, May 16, 2013, 11:55 am // Wendy HarrisThe public process on the revised waterfront plans is an empty charade
1 comments; last on May 17, 2013
Wed, May 15, 2013, 10:23 pm // Wendy HarrisThe political censor police are listening to you
5 comments; last on May 16, 2013
Fri, May 10, 2013, 9:22 am // Wendy HarrisThe City Planning Commission Advocates "Free Market Capitalism" Approach to Waterfront Planning.
1 comments; last on May 12, 2013
Thu, May 09, 2013, 11:07 pm // Wendy HarrisA recent letter by the Parks Department fails to contain reassurance that the geese will be safe from extermination this year.
Fri, May 03, 2013, 10:16 pm // Wendy HarrisThe Humane Society is bringing herding dogs to control Silver Lake geese, but it is not an optimal situation for success.
Wed, May 01, 2013, 10:31 pm // Wendy HarrisThe County Parks Department has allocated funding for playground equipment, but has not allocated funding for wildlife management planning.
1 comments; last on May 03, 2013
Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 6:05 pm // Wendy HarrisThe only urgency underscored by the Silver Lake geese is the urgency of enacting a comprehensive wildlife strategy.
4 comments; last on Apr 29, 2013
Sat, Apr 20, 2013, 10:52 am // Wendy HarrisThere will be no due process for the Canada geese, or the public, before the County Parks Department lethally removes the geese from Silver Lake
4 comments; last on Apr 24, 2013
Wed, Apr 10, 2013, 10:24 pm // Wendy HarrisThe Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan needs policies that favor adaptive reuse and preservation of historic waterfront structures
Sat, Apr 06, 2013, 1:06 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city's proposed new Economic Development Chapter is based on an outdated economic theory
1 comments; last on Apr 06, 2013
Fri, Apr 05, 2013, 3:59 pm // Wendy HarrisNew slaughterhouse proposal "wishes away" current agricultural zoning restrictions.
10 comments; last on Apr 21, 2013
Mon, Apr 01, 2013, 3:00 pm // Wendy HarrisGovernment agencies responsible for the GPT project have completed review of the scoping comments.
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 9:36 pm // Wendy HarrisA beneficial reuse provision in the Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan would allow construction materials that are contaminated with bioaccumulative toxins.
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 8:59 pm // Wendy HarrisThe City Planning Department has included a technical document in the waterfront proposal without disclosing important impacts.
1 comments; last on Mar 30, 2013
Fri, Mar 01, 2013, 4:19 pm // Wendy HarrisA variance request pending before the City could create a loophole for developers seeking to avoid compliance with development standards.
5 comments; last on Mar 07, 2013
Tue, Feb 19, 2013, 9:40 pm // Wendy HarrisAn "Updated Preferred Alternative" reduces the number of waterfront jobs and expands the boundary of the waterfront district.
Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 2:59 pm // Wendy HarrisParticipate in the public process by commenting on the new Economic Development chapter to the city comprehensive plan
1 comments; last on Feb 15, 2013
Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 12:09 am // Wendy HarrisThe planning commission no longer serves its purpose due to Council's poor appointment choices
2 comments; last on Feb 10, 2013
Mon, Jan 28, 2013, 1:52 am // Wendy HarrisImproving ecosystem functions holistically is the best form of protection for the Lake Whatcom.
1 comments; last on Jan 29, 2013
Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 6:19 pm // Wendy HarrisLinks to a few noteworthy GPT scoping comments .
1 comments; last on Jan 23, 2013
Fri, Jan 11, 2013, 1:35 pm // Wendy HarrisA proposed amendment to the Lake Whatcom watershed moratorium will increase water quality degradation
1 comments; last on Jan 12, 2013
Sun, Jan 06, 2013, 11:49 pm // Wendy HarrisWatch the Whatcom County Council wiggle its way out of the latest round of GMA compliance requirements for Lake Whatcom
1 comments; last on Jul 27, 2013
Fri, Jan 04, 2013, 11:37 pm // Wendy HarrisCouncil majority willing to spend, and spend, and spend public funds defending development rights
2 comments; last on Jan 05, 2013
Sun, Dec 09, 2012, 2:21 pm // Wendy HarrisPer capita, Washington is one of the top states nationwide for providing private business incentives.
Sun, Dec 02, 2012, 6:24 pm // Wendy HarrisAn Ineffective Starling Control Contract That Provides A Subsidy To Farmers Should Be Removed From the County Council Budget
1 comments; last on Dec 03, 2012
Sat, Dec 01, 2012, 3:42 pm // Wendy HarrisThe proposal to allow slaughterhouses and rendering plants in the agriculture zone ignores nearby, and more appropriate, rural industrial zoning.
3 comments; last on Dec 02, 2012
Fri, Nov 16, 2012, 10:02 pm // Wendy HarrisProposed Stormwater Standards For Lake Whatcom Watershed Protect Developers Rather Than Lake
5 comments; last on Nov 20, 2012
Wed, Oct 31, 2012, 11:45 pm // Wendy HarrisCounty Council ready to move forward despite the many remaining questions regaring public health and safety
8 comments; last on Nov 04, 2012
Thu, Oct 11, 2012, 3:25 pm // Wendy HarrisReduced public services and facilities yet another public cost for private development
Thu, Sep 20, 2012, 9:04 pm // Wendy HarrisA proposal to zone slaugherhouses on agricultural land will have negative consequences for farmers and residents.
12 comments; last on Sep 30, 2012
Wed, Sep 12, 2012, 2:22 pm // Wendy HarrisIrrational and uninformed last minute opposition derails 5+ year effort to protect Lake Whatcom.
5 comments; last on Sep 18, 2012
Wed, Sep 05, 2012, 10:18 pm // Wendy HarrisThe City has released its letter, but not its poor policy determination regarding exemption from the Public Records Act.
1 comments; last on Sep 06, 2012
Thu, Aug 23, 2012, 8:54 pm // Wendy HarrisIs a popular but flawed philosophy affecting local government policy?
2 comments; last on Aug 25, 2012
Thu, Aug 16, 2012, 11:50 pm // Wendy HarrisThe Mayor's Negotiations With Costco Undercuts City Permit Procedures And Public Process
4 comments; last on Aug 17, 2012
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