Council begins Comp Plan review with big hearing

The Planning Commission finished up its work on the Comprehensive Plan update at it’s last meeting, and sent it on the County Council. To kick off their review, the Council held a public hearing last Tuesday. Both the anti-coal port and pro-port groups hyped the hearing and it was standing room only. As I mentioned in my last message the Lummi Nation Planning Department has submitted language to amend the Cherry Point UGA to exclude development for coal and oil export facilities. Here are their submitted comments. I’m pretty sure a lot of people on both sides of the issue don’t understand that the Comp Plan, whatever it says about coal exports, will not effect the pending permit application for the Gateway Pacific Terminal. As soon as the permit application was submitted, the law froze in place, and only the law at that time will apply to that project, if it actually gets approved.

It will be interesting to see if the Council chooses to even talk about the Lummi amendments. The proposals must be taken up by a council member to be considered at all. Otherwise they are just public comments like everyone else’s. Before the last PC meeting I asked legal counsel if voting on such an issue would have any implications for the pending GPT application, and was told that it might give the appearance of pre-judgement by the Council about coal export facilities at Cherry Point. The Lummi amendments are not general. They are specific to the Cherry Point UGA.

The Council has three months to whip through the Draft update. Here’s their schedule. I recommend paying attention to the environment chapter and the UGAs. Here are the final amended versions of each chapter.  Also, the Final EIS for the Comp Plan update is now available, HERE.

The Building Industry Association was on the Chamber of Commerce radio show on KGMI last Sunday. In the interest of some balance, I’ve arranged for Bellingham Councilman Michael Lilliquist and  County Planning Commissioner Nicole Oliver to provide another point of view this Sunday. The show is at 8 am on Sunday, January 31, on AM 790. It will be available on podcast at the link above.

Planning Commission moves on to “Code Scrub” and Critical Areas

On today’s Planning Commission meeting agenda is what is known as a “Code Scrub” where we consider needed updates to the Zoning Code that have come up as a result of state law changes or clarifications from Hearings Examiner decisions. The meeting is Thursday, January 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the Northwest Annex Conference Room, 5280 Northwest Drive, Bellingham. See the meeting materials at the link below. In February we will start on the update to the Critical Areas Ordinance, which also must be adopted by the Council by June.