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
Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 11:58 am // John ServaisThe Political Junkie has posted a 3 minute video showing Bellingham City Council members explaining their idiocy for all of us to watch.
2 comments; last on Dec 06, 2013
Wed, Dec 04, 2013, 10:53 am // John ServaisBellingham City Council and Port of Bellingham finalize the waterfront plan. In his weekly Gristle, Tim Johnson blasts the corrupt public process.
4 comments; last on Dec 05, 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?
Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 10:21 am // Riley SweeneyRiley crunches the numbers on Renata and McAuley's races to find answers
2 comments; last on Nov 13, 2013
Tue, Nov 05, 2013, 8:21 pm // John ServaisWith lots of outside county money flowing in to our local races, this election is weird. But real - and we county residents have spoken.
11 comments; last on Nov 09, 2013
Sun, Oct 20, 2013, 7:07 pm // John ServaisKen Bell has my vote over Mike McAuley for port commissioner. And Renata Kowalczyk has it over Dan Robbins.
8 comments; last on Oct 30, 2013
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 5:40 am // Riley SweeneyRiley uncovers how the Coal Industry is funding conservative candidates in Whatcom County
11 comments; last on Oct 03, 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.
Thu, Sep 19, 2013, 6:08 am // Riley SweeneyRiley examines who is donating to which candidates
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 6:29 am // Riley SweeneyRiley Sweeney examines Sen. Ericksen's legislative methods
Fri, May 17, 2013, 4:44 pm // John ServaisTuesday morning and nothing in today's Bellingham Herald. Nor online. We provide the basics to fill in this latest omission by our "daily" newspaper.
9 comments; last on May 23, 2013
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
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.
Sun, Nov 04, 2012, 9:21 am // Paul deArmondThe Whatcom county Voters’ Pamphlet containing misleading and untrue statements by unregistered, unaccountable and anonymous front groups.
3 comments; last on Nov 06, 2012
Wed, Oct 31, 2012, 7:29 am // Riley SweeneyHere's your shot at fame and glory as a political pundit
4 comments; last on Nov 02, 2012
Mon, Oct 01, 2012, 11:07 pm // Guest writerHarriet Spanel and Ken Hertz on why we should vote YES to increase the Port of Bellingham to 5 commissioners.
3 comments; last on Oct 05, 2012
Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 8:00 am // Riley SweeneyRiley sits down with Matt Petryni with Power Past Coal to get the latest scoop
Fri, Aug 03, 2012, 11:18 pm // John ServaisGraphics projected on building each night in effort to bring attention to threatened building
3 comments; last on Aug 11, 2012
Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 12:46 pm // John ServaisA special - short notice - Port of Bellingham Commission meeting on Thursday, June 28 starting at 8:30 a.m.
6 comments; last on Jul 03, 2012
Sun, Jun 17, 2012, 8:52 am // Paul deArmondPort Commissioner Scott Walker and attorney Frank Chmelik get caught ballot-rigging again
20 comments; last on Jun 21, 2012
Mon, Jun 04, 2012, 4:51 pm // John ServaisPort Commissioners plan to change their Port Expansion resolution on Tuesday - based on advice from port attorney Chmelik. No notice of this item on the agenda.
6 comments; last on Jun 05, 2012
Wed, May 16, 2012, 3:15 pm // John ServaisIn today's Cascadia Weekly, Tim Johnson analyses the Port Commissioner meeting and the shenanigans of Walker and Chmelik.
Mon, May 14, 2012, 5:07 pm // John ServaisPort Commissioners McAuley and Jorgensen voted to put on November ballot the question of expanding commission from 3 to 5 members.
5 comments; last on May 15, 2012
Wed, May 09, 2012, 5:11 am // John ServaisToday's Cascadia Weekly rips the Port staff on changed waterfront plans and sees 5 commissioners as possible solution to poor decision making.
2 comments; last on May 10, 2012
Thu, May 03, 2012, 8:23 pm // John ServaisThe Joe Show had John Servais on the air for a full hour on Thursday - and we link to the pod cast.
3 comments; last on May 05, 2012
Tue, May 01, 2012, 9:24 am // John ServaisBellingham Port Reform has a Facebook page, courtesy of Tip Johnson.
1 comments; last on May 02, 2012
Tue, May 01, 2012, 8:34 am // John ServaisPort of Bellingham signed lease a month ago to hoopla and now the boat builder is exiting for Anacortes.
11 comments; last on May 08, 2012
Mon, Apr 30, 2012, 9:54 pm // John ServaisSeveral people will be urging the Port of Bellingham commissioners to place the question of expanding to 5 commissioners on the ballot.
Sat, Apr 28, 2012, 9:09 am // John ServaisA county wide initiative will allow voters to decide whether to expand the Port of Bellingham commission from 3 to 5 commissioners.
1 comments; last on Apr 28, 2012
Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 8:25 am // John ServaisToday's Bellingham Herald carries an article from Sheldon, with facts, falsehoods and his perspective on his forced resignation as Executive Director of the Port of Bellingham.
Wed, Apr 18, 2012, 11:28 am // John ServaisA 26 minute video of the port commissioners explaining their positions on the firing of executive director Charlie Sheldon is posted.
7 comments; last on Apr 19, 2012
Tue, Apr 17, 2012, 11:51 am // John ServaisAt 3 p.m. today - Tuesday, April 17 - the Port of Bellingham meets. Let's attend and support rehiring Charlie Sheldon.
3 comments; last on Apr 18, 2012
Fri, Apr 13, 2012, 4:47 pm // John ServaisFriday update: Herald reports Jim Jorgensen could change his mind on firing of Port of Bellingham Executive Director Charlie Sheldon
3 comments; last on Apr 17, 2012
Tue, Apr 10, 2012, 7:52 pm // John ServaisAn illegal serial Port Commission meeting should be investigated by the State Auditor, and two commissioners should be made accountable for their actions.
5 comments; last on Apr 11, 2012
Thu, Apr 05, 2012, 3:00 pm // John ServaisAn Online petition has been posted where citizens can sign on to request the Port Commissioners revote on Charlie Sheldon's termination.
5 comments; last on Apr 06, 2012
Wed, Apr 04, 2012, 2:16 pm // John ServaisState law allows us to pass an initiative and increase the number of port commissioners from three to five. Thanks to Harriet Spanel.
4 comments; last on Apr 05, 2012
Tue, Apr 03, 2012, 5:25 pm // John ServaisPort Commissioner Mike McAuley did everything he could do to change Jim Jorgensen's mind. Jim and Scott Walker forced Charlie Sheldon out.
6 comments; last on Apr 06, 2012
Mon, Apr 02, 2012, 11:35 am // John ServaisThis morning, Charlie Sheldon, unexpectedly resigned as Executive Director of the Port of Bellingham.
10 comments; last on Apr 03, 2012
Tue, Jan 31, 2012, 8:36 am // Paul deArmondPort Commissioner Scott Walker and attorney Frank Chmelik get caught ballot-rigging again
Wed, Nov 09, 2011, 9:31 am // John ServaisWill close races shift to the other candidate? Just how many ballots are left to count? When will we know for sure?
1 comments; last on Nov 09, 2011
Wed, Oct 19, 2011, 8:16 pm // John ServaisCharlie Sheldon shifts Port staff to help economic development of private business and to support needed infrastructure.
4 comments; last on Oct 23, 2011
Wed, Oct 19, 2011, 12:13 am // John ServaisBellingham Port Commissioner Scott Walker motioned for the port to ask Executive Director Charlie Sheldon to resign.
5 comments; last on Oct 20, 2011
Thu, Sep 08, 2011, 9:37 am // Riley SweeneyLook at the title, it spells it out.
6 comments; last on Sep 12, 2011
Thu, Jun 23, 2011, 7:30 am // Wendy HarrisTime is running out for public comment on the Port's proposal to use toxic waste as a cap at waterfront re-development site.
5 comments; last on Jul 02, 2011
Wed, Jun 01, 2011, 4:32 pm // Guest writerGuest writer Mark Flanders' call to action for June 1 flash mob at coal port meeting
7 comments; last on Jun 09, 2011
Fri, Mar 25, 2011, 4:00 am // John ServaisCoal trains will probably pass Lynden on their way from Sumas to Cherry Point, after coming across on the Canadian rail roads.
16 comments; last on Aug 14, 2011
Thu, Feb 17, 2011, 6:30 pm // Guest writerGuest writer Doug Karlberg follows up with report from Tuesday's Port Commission meeting
7 comments; last on Feb 20, 2011
Mon, Feb 14, 2011, 6:35 pm // Guest writerWhy the price of moorage matters to all Whatcom County. A guest article by Doug Karlberg.
5 comments; last on Jun 30, 2011
Fri, Jul 16, 2010, 2:30 pm // John ServaisIn a surprise development, the Port of Bellingham is starting over again in their search for an executive director. Position now vacant for over a year.
1 comments; last on Jul 18, 2010
Wed, Apr 21, 2010, 5:29 pm // John ServaisBellingham Herald reporting is skewed to foster desired opinions and hide facts
4 comments; last on Apr 23, 2010
Tue, Jan 05, 2010, 12:17 am // Tip JohnsonPort of Bellingham in the news
Wed, Nov 25, 2009, 12:25 pm // Tip Johnson
Paul de Armond's recent article about Leonard Zeskind's new book, "Blood and Poli
3 comments; last on Nov 29, 2009
Tue, Nov 24, 2009, 5:12 am // John ServaisSeems like the offices of Frank Chmelik, the attorney for the Port of Bellingham, are becoming our defacto Port offices. Instead of conferences and meetings at the Port,…
2 comments; last on Nov 25, 2009
Thu, Nov 05, 2009, 4:21 pm // John ServaisHow to make heads or tails of the election results. Bill Knutzen and Ken Mann with the highest margins of the County Council winners. Mike McAuley, a newcomer…
20 comments; last on Nov 12, 2009
Wed, Aug 26, 2009, 8:00 am // Ham HayesThe challenger for the Port Commissioner District 1 seat, John Blethen, has an uphill race ahead of him.
John is certainly to be congratulated for an excellent…
1 comments; last on Aug 26, 2009
Thu, Aug 20, 2009, 8:38 am // John ServaisThe big loser in Tuesday's election was the Bellingham Herald. Its influence took a tumble. It ignored the Port commissioner races in general and pointedly refused to even…
1 comments; last on Aug 20, 2009
Tue, Aug 18, 2009, 1:18 pm // John ServaisAnd you are invited. 8 pm - and it will be over by 9 pm. The four Port Commission challengers will start speaking at 8:15 in the rotunda…
2 comments; last on Aug 19, 2009
Fri, Aug 14, 2009, 11:25 am // Tip JohnsonAll to often in politics, public interest advocates find themselves feeling like they are shouting futilely into the wind. Looking ahead, at the Port's mismanagement of the waterfront…
8 comments; last on Sep 08, 2009
Tue, Aug 11, 2009, 3:57 pm // Guest writerNote: Each primary election candidate - Port, County Council and City Council - has been invited to submit one article for posting here on NwCitizen. This is the…
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