Municipal Stormwater Permit amendments on Agenda

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on a proposalto adopt minor code amendments to WCC Titles 20 and 16. The purpose of these proposed amendments is to properly designate the Director of Public Works, or his/her designee, as the administrator of the Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit, with the enforcement provisions overseen by the Director of Planning and Development Services, the Director of Health, the County Sheriff, or their respective designees. The hearing will be held at it’s next meeting, Thursday, November 13, 6:30 pm at the County Annex, NW & Smith Roads. AGENDA MATERIALS
These amendments are described as housekeeping, driven by changes in state law. I haven’t read through it yet, but it deletes one paragraph and adopts 12 new ones. If you are familiar with these provisions, I’d appreciate your take on them.

Mineral Resource Lands amendments go to County Council

On October 23rd, we held a hearing on changes to the process to designate Mineral Resource Lands, and permit process for surface mining. Here’s my discussion.
The two competing proposals before the PC are attempts to fix the process so that Whatcom County can actually designate some more MRL for future (sand, gravel, hard rock) needs. Both versions will be considered by the council, but the PC recommended the version developed by the surface Mining Advisory Committee.
I continue to be unconvinced that either will really address the problem we have. We have no Mineral Resource Land in reserve for future needs, and continuing to designate new parcels piecemeal will also continue the situation that focuses the discussion on the appropriateness of mining on that particular parcel. When this happens, we don’t have the big picture where we can say “what other land would be more appropriate for mining?” Whatcom County has done some analysis of mineral resources but have not taken these forward to designate MRLs.
The PC adopted my motion that we strongly recommend that Whatcom County take a lead role in designating mineral resource lands of long-term commercial significance in order to protect them from incompatible uses, as opposed to the present process of landowner initiated amendments.”
This issue is tentatively on the Council agenda for Nov. 25.

Sam Taylor Appointed to District 3 Vacancy

The County Council has appointed Sam Taylor to the Planning Commission. Taylor currently works for the City of Ferndale as City Clerk, whose duties include serving as liaison between the public and City Council. He also worked as Politics reporter for the Bellingham Herald and originated the Politics Blog for the Herald.

My Impressions of Town Hall on Comp Plan Update

Last time I punted on sharing my impression of the Town Hall on the Comp Plan. So here goes: I heard a lot of people talk about how long their family has lived in Whatcom County. Somehow that is seen as a selling point when expressing opinions about Whatcom County planning, and other subjects. The implication is that they were farmers, fishermen, loggers way back when and that gives their descendants “cred” on policy issues.
I have lived in Whatcom County almost 25 years, and my ancestors were farmers, homesteaders, missionaries, too, just not here. In fact almost everyone has a similar family experience of farming the land in past generations, and this history does color on the way we all look at our surroundings.
I am focused on the future of Whatcom County and what we need to do to live here in harmony with the physical environment. When people tell me their great grandpa cleared land and farmed here, I think of all the things that generation did to destroy salmon habitat, pollute streams, cheat the Indians out of their treaty rights, cut down the vast forest. We all have some atoning to do for the sins of our ancestors.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to take a class on Pacific Northwest History, I recommend the book “Land Use, Environment, and Social Change: The Shaping of Island County, Washington” by Richard White. Originally published in 1980, I suspect very few old-timers have read it, but as a “newcomer” I have. Sometimes it’s the newcomers who can see what’s really happening, without the narrow view of their own personal experience.
Next time I’ll tackle the issue of children not being able to find jobs in Whatcom County. Personally, I’m glad my son finally moved out and got a real job somewhere else.

Cherry Point Economic Study

The Center for Economic & Business Research (CEBR) at Western Washington University conducted an independent, non-partisan, in-depth study of the impact of the only Whatcom area zoned for heavy industrial use: Cherry Point. Three major corporations operate at Cherry Point – BP Cherry Point Refinery, Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery, and the Alcoa Intalco Works Smelter.
Read the study HERE.

Some other news

North Whatcom farmers approve districts for securing irrigation water
State’s $260M project would restore Nooksack River delta north of Bellingham
Legislature should back smart growth tools for smaller cities
Dr. Charles F. Wilkinson, three lectures in Bellingham on the Boldt Decision of 1974