Birch Bay boat launch hearing set

Published on Thu, Jan 17, 2002 by Jack Kintner

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Birch Bay boat launch hearing set

By Jack Kintner

The Birch Bay Steering Committee, faced with losing the state park’s boat launch over a shoreline development permit squabble between Birch Bay State Park and the county, decided to submit a letter to the hearing examiner in support of the launch and its present location. Claudia Hollod made a motion at the committee’s first meeting of the new year to send the letter, a follow-up to a petition in November. The motion was seconded by Bill Grant and passed 14-0 with one abstention.

The launch is at the south end of Birch Bay State Park and is closed with winter storm debris. County planning and development services staff found it in violation of county shoreline development codes after a review sparked by complaints from neighboring land owner Pete Hansen. Parks representatives maintain that the launch site has been in use since before county shoreline regulations came into effect in 1974 and should be allowed to remain as a non-conforming use.

State parks filed an appeal to the county decision which keeps the launch technically open until the county hearing examiner rules on it. The hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. February 6 in county council chambers. If the state parks loses the appeal, the launch will close until it meets the requirements of the county Shoreline Management Program, something park manager Ted Morris estimated would take “at least a year.” Morris said state parks would apply to keep the launch where it is rather than move it to another location in the park.

A second issue faced earlier in the meeting dealt with a land use in an area zoned heavy industrial and lying between the BP Cherry Point Refinery and the shoreline. The steering committee’s land use plan projects a change in much of the area’s zoning to low density residential, something favored by Trillium Corporation who hopes to develop 600 acres it owns for private homes that would have a view of Georgia Straight, the San Juans and the Gulf Islands.

Mike Abendhoff, manager of government and public affairs for the B.P. Cherry Point Refinery, urged the steering committee to enlarge the industrially zoned area west of the present refinery in its plan to reflect the current zoning. “It’s the last site zoned for heavy industry in the county. There’s also a safety factor of not building residential homes too close,” Abendhoff said.

The steering committee took no action, deciding by consensus this is something to be worked out between the county, Trillium and BP. The land use plan remained as is “but we now expect some changes in it, based upon what these parties negotiate,” said committee secretary Kathy Berg.

The steering committee also approved traffic revisions to enlarge two roads that intersect with Birch Bay-Lynden Road: Harbor View north to Lincoln Road and Kickerville south to Grandview.

Upcoming committee meetings are January 23, to review the first seven chapters of the comprehensive plan, and January 30 to look at governance issues. All meetings are at 7 p.m. at Birch Bay Leisure Park..

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