Hearing on Public Participation on Comp Plan Development March 27

The Whatcom County Planning Commission will hold one public hearing this week, March 27th starting at 6:30 pm at the County Annex, Smith and NW. The topic is Draft Public Participation Plan for Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulation Amendments.

The Public Participation Plan lays out all the projects and issues to be dealt with this year (already adopted by the Council) and says to what level of notice and involvement they want the public to be involved in the decision-making. Here’s the draft plan. There are three levels of participation, and each issue is put into one of these levels. Check these out beginning at page 17 (4-2). Level one has uncomplicated or non-controversial issues. Level two provides more opportunity to weigh alternatives before making decisions. And Level three adds additional layers of consultation, including a town hall meeting. What we should consider: are the projects and issues in the right level?

The one substantive change in past practice in this year’s plan is when a proposal gets modified by the Planning Commission or the Council, after full 30 day notice and hearing, it only needs 10 day notice on this second go-round in the modified form. Otherwise, it would need a second 30-day notice period before being at hearing again.

County-wide Population Growth Monitoring Report

PDS staff has published a County-wide Population Growth Monitoring Report for urban and non-urban areas of the county. While the Non-Urban Growth Monitoring Report published in January focuses on the portion of the County outside the urban growth areas, this report includes both urban and non-urban areas, and compares recent growth with the population growth allocations that are currently adopted in the Comprehensive Plan.

Planning Commission Briefing on Population Growth Monitoring Report: Thursday, March 27th, 6:30 pm, County Annex, NW & Smith. Staff Report

Comprehensive Plan EIS scoping

Those following the Gateway Pacific Terminal process will know exactly what “scoping” is all about.

Whatcom County is undertaking a Comprehensive Plan Update, Development Regulations Update and UGA Review in accordance with the Growth Management Act. Whatcom County is required to complete this review and update by June 30, 2016. As part of this review and update, the County and cities of Bellingham, Blaine, Everson, Ferndale, Lynden, Nooksack, and Sumas are undertaking a process to allocate population and employment growth to UGAs and the area of the County outside of UGAs. The County may consider amendments to County Comprehensive Plan goals and policies, UGA boundaries, land use map, and other plan elements, as well as development regulations (zoning, critical areas ordinance, etc.).

Whatcom County will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Comprehensive Plan Update, Development Regulations Update and UGA Review.  Agencies, affected tribes, and members of the public are invited to comment on the scope of the EIS. You may comment on alternatives, mitigation measures, probable significant adverse impacts, and licenses or other approvals that may be required.

A Scoping public hearing was held on March 18th. Comment deadline has been extended to April 7th, 5 pm. Send comments to Matt Aamot at pds@co.whatcom.wa.us . You can review the 2009 Final EIS HERE to get an idea of what’s involved.

Population Projections for 20-year Growth Planning

These were adopted with Ken Mann’s language requesting staff to work with cities to develop an effective and robust Transfer of Development Rights Program as part of the 2016 Comprehensive Plan update, and that it’s the County’s intention that any request to expand an Urban Growth Area include an agreement to purchase development rights from rural or resource lands when annexation occurs. It was mentioned more than once that the population numbers are non-binding. This is because nothing is binding until the final Comprehensive Plan is adopted. But because many other plans must be in place when the Comprehensive Plan is adopted, planners need to know what population numbers the County is working toward. HERE are the Numbers and resolution

 Water Action Plan

The Water Action Plan was approved, 7-0, by the Council March 11th.  See the adopted version here.

View parts one and two of the The League of Women Voters series , titled “Whatcom Water Issues – What to Do and Navigating Towards Solutions” HERE.

Items on the March 25 County Council Agenda

County Council Natural Resources Comte, March 25, 9:30 am, council Chambers:
Update of Purchase and Development Rights Program by the Purchase of Development Rights Oversight Committee and County staff (AB2013-363A)

County Council Public Works Cmte, March 25, 1:30 pm Council Chambers:
Discussion of on-site sewage system replacement within Bellingham City limits (AB2014-134)

County Council Planning And Development Cmte, 3 pm Council Chambers:
Discussion of an interim ordinance related to packinghouse applications in Agriculture Zones (AB2014-060A)

County Council HEARING, March 25, 7 pm Council Chambers:
Ordinance allowing, on an interim basis, marijuana production, processing, and retailing as authorized by Washington State Initiative 502, and medical marijuana facilities as authorized under Chapter 69.51A RCW (AB2014-074B)

County Council Committee of the Whole, March 25, 6 pm, May be in executive session:
Discussion with Senior Deputy Prosecutor Karen Frakes regarding pending litigation before the Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) and pending judicial appeals from GMHB decisions (AB2014-018) I’m told this will include a request for more money to continue this litigation.

FULL County Council AGENDA
Planning Commission AGENDA
Planning Commission Meeting Schedule

–Natalie