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
Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 7:36 pm // John ServaisBeach reconstruction is done at Boulevard Park on the Bellingham waterfront. Paths along shore are again open - and it looks good.
6 comments; last on Nov 01, 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
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.
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 6:29 am // Riley SweeneyRiley Sweeney examines Sen. Ericksen's legislative methods
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
Sun, Mar 17, 2013, 8:42 pm // John ServaisWendy Harris writes about the proposed $8 million concrete bridge along the Bellingham waterfront - using Greenways funds to build.
3 comments; last on Mar 20, 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.
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
Mon, Jul 23, 2012, 6:05 pm // John ServaisWhere a planning staff desire for view corridors in the Fairhaven plan yields a view corridor that does nothing for views.
1 comments; last on Jul 25, 2012
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
Tue, Aug 09, 2011, 4:44 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley interviews Clayton Petree about his view of Downtown Bellingham
6 comments; last on Aug 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
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
Wed, Dec 15, 2010, 9:07 pm // Guest writerWendy Harris writes about a multi million dollar planned city of Bellingham project.
9 comments; last on Dec 18, 2010
Wed, Mar 10, 2010, 8:42 pm // Kamalla Rose KaurMaybe NOAA knows the truth about our waterfront. Our Port of Bellingham pretends it is not toxic. But it is criminally toxic.
2 comments; last on Mar 16, 2010
Wed, Nov 25, 2009, 8:00 am // Ham Hayes
I’ve been to Los Angeles many times. I even remember the Red and Yellow electric street cars that served the city from after World War II until…
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
Sun, Apr 26, 2009, 11:19 am // John ServaisDan Pike's guest editorial in Sunday's Herald is a direct result of an article on NwCitizen earlier this week. Indeed, on Wednesday, after the article had only been…
3 comments; last on May 21, 2009
Sat, Mar 21, 2009, 9:19 am // John ServaisWe local taxpayers have contributed $20 million of our own tax dollars to AIG's executives. Remember? A couple years ago the Port bought an insurance policy from AIG…
3 comments; last on Mar 23, 2009
Fri, Jan 02, 2009, 6:23 pm // John ServaisComing to our Fairhaven waterfront - this magnificent floating drydock. The above aerial photo is of the Fairhaven Shipyard with the new drydock placed as a computer image…
1 comments; last on Jan 03, 2009
Wed, Jun 25, 2008, 4:20 pm // John ServaisTired of looking at a photo of geese when you check here? So am I. We have nine writers for this site but it has been rather slack…
10 comments; last on Aug 04, 2008
Fri, Feb 22, 2008, 12:24 pm // Ham HayesTBL, or Triple Bottom Line, is a nifty concept that says we want to be evaluating and measuring projects on the basis not only of economic, but environmental…
5 comments; last on Feb 25, 2008
Sat, Feb 02, 2008, 3:55 pm // Tip JohnsonWhen Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) are prepared, more than one development model might be evaluated. But a no-action alternative is always required as a baseline reference. Convention
Tue, Jul 17, 2007, 4:33 pm // Site ManagementIt is not bad enough that the city council schedules the public hearing on our future Shoreline Master Plan for the middle of July - a plan many…
Thu, Jul 12, 2007, 4:59 pm // Site ManagementThe Herald does not even follow its own mandates. On Sunday, the editorial said the candidates "...must address 6 big issues." Must. Then they sent out their own…
Mon, Jul 09, 2007, 5:17 pm // Site ManagementThe Herald ran an ad for the State Department of Ecology informing us of the web site where we could find the Draft Consent Decree for our waterfront…
Thu, May 10, 2007, 3:51 pm // Tip JohnsonIn a Bellingham Herald article dated May 4, Interim Mayor Tim Douglas "said it's
Thu, Apr 26, 2007, 11:02 am // Tip JohnsonWhy the Log Pond cap won't work
An article in a recent Bellingham Business Journal detailed the debate over whether the toxic muck in the Whatcom Waterway ought to…
Mon, Apr 23, 2007, 3:24 pm // Tip JohnsonIndependent media? Freedom of the press? Peoples friend, tyrants foe? It was a good idea while it lasted, educating the electorate and forming a mainstay of our democracy.…
Wed, Apr 18, 2007, 3:49 pm // Tip JohnsonAccording to the Bellingham Herald, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has recently approved leaving tons of mercury buried in Bellingham Bay. The documents are not yet…
Wed, Apr 18, 2007, 3:34 pm // Tip JohnsonNew Whatcom Redevelopment Project - The City and Port of Bellingham will hold public information a meeting. Bellingham Cruise Terminal. 355 Harris Ave., Bellingham. WA Times: 6:00 PM.
Thu, Jan 25, 2007, 5:18 pm // John ServaisToday's Bellingham Herald editorial invites an answer. The editorial is good in that it reflects on past bad practices, like allowing GP to dump mercury into Bellingham Bay,…
Mon, Dec 11, 2006, 2:32 pm // Tip JohnsonOne of the more momentous public hearings in Bellingham's history appears to be ready to pass with more than the ordinary confusion. We wrote about some of the…
Thu, Nov 30, 2006, 1:56 pm // John ServaisNotice:
Relative to the last post:
Ecology has rescheduled the public meeting for:
December 7th, 6:30 p.m. ñ 8:30 p.m., Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue, Bell
Mon, Nov 27, 2006, 5:15 pm // Tip Johnsonor I lied (sort of!)
In the previous post I complained that the biggest rip-off in Whatcom County history was happening without even being discussed or making it into…
Sun, Nov 26, 2006, 4:21 pm // Tip JohnsonThe good? We are no longer spewing forty+ pounds of mercury vapor every day into the local atmosphere. We are no longer dumping 20 to 40 tons of…
Mon, Mar 01, 2004, 7:20 pm // John ServaisIf WWU gets their way, $20 million in state taxes will be spent on jack-hammering out good roads and building new ones a hundred yards away. No increase…
Wed, Aug 27, 2003, 3:57 pm // John ServaisGinny Benton, seeking her third term as commissioner, stated this evening at the Rome Grange that she will not respond to the "mud slinging" being done against her.…
Mon, May 12, 2003, 6:08 pm // John ServaisWaterfront Futures for Bellingham - nothing here. This is one of those processes t
Thu, May 01, 2003, 6:40 pm // John ServaisElections this fall could bring positive change to Whatcom County and Bellingham. In particular, we need a new Mayor and we need a new Port Commissioner. The challenge…
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