2001 IN REVIEWThe city of Blaine

Published on Thu, Jan 31, 2002 by Gary TomsicCity Manager

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The city of Blaine

By Gary Tomsic
City Manager

2001 was a very busy and productive year for the city of Blaine. The following are the major accomplishments of your city government:
City of Blaine strategic plan: The council and staff completed ‘Imagine Blaine: 2002 Strategic Plan’ which sets forth the major goals and strategies for the city of Blaine. This document is the road map that sets forth the city’s priorities for the near term future.

Neighborhood meetings: The city council and city manager hosted four community meetings to hear from local citizens the issues about which they are most concerned. Meetings were held at the Semiahmoo fire station and the Blaine community center. A special meeting was held with the Blaine senior citizens. The meetings were well attended and many good ideas were shared. A report of the meetings was mailed to all of those who attended.

Fire bond issue: The citizens of Blaine overwhelmingly approved $1.6 million for the construction of a new Blaine fire station. The fire station should be completed by the end of 2002.

Lummi settlement: After a year in mediation, the city and the Lummi Nation signed an agreement which settled all claims against the city for damages to ancestral remains that occurred during the wastewater construction project. The settlement agreement clears the way for the Lummi and the city to jointly pursue funding for a new wastewater plant and for the restoration of the existing site.

Adult entertainment ordinance: The Blaine Book Company has consistently been identified as one of the major roadblocks to the redevelopment of the downtown area. The city council approved an ordinance that precludes adult entertainment businesses in the central business district but allows for them, by special use permit, in specified manufacturing zones in the city.

The city has given notice to the Blaine Book Company that they are required to move their business from the central business district within the next 12 months. The city is also pursuing legal remedies to collect the fine imposed by the court against the Blaine Book Company.

New business license ordinance: The council approved a new business license ordinance that simplified the regulations and permitting process. The ordinance also adjusted the business license fees.

Development fee study: One of the main concerns that the city council hears from the business and development community is how difficult and expensive it is to do business in Blaine. One of the major goals of the city council has been to improve the permitting process so that potential investors are dealt with in a business like, predictable and efficient manner. The addition of a current planner to the CED staff was a major step in improving customer relations. There has already been significant improvement.

The council directed that the staff complete an analysis of the cities fee structure to determine if the city’s fees are too high. The CED and Public Works Departments completed a comprehensive review of fees throughout Whatcom County and compared those with the city of Blaine. The staff presented recommendations at the first meeting in January.

Council Rules of Conduct: The city council reviewed and approved new rules of conduct for the council. These rules govern how council meetings will be conducted. The rules had not been updated for many years.

Jail alternative work program: The city council approved the creation of the Jail Alternative Work Program. In this program, persons convicted of crimes in the city’s court can be sentenced to a work program rather than jail. The person must pay to participate in the program. The funds pay for a work coordinator that supervises the crews every Saturday. Since starting in January 2001, crews have worked 1,239 hours completing projects throughout the city.

Beatification and Make a Difference Day: When the council held a series of neighborhood meetings last year, one of the most consistent issues that they heard expressed by Blaine citizens was that the appearance of the community needed attention. The city has responded in two ways, first by making code enforcement a major priority in 2002.

Secondly, the city created a beautification committee that identified a number of projects throughout the city. One such project was the fix-up and painting of the Casa Azul building on Portal Drive. The Beautification Committee also spearheaded Blaine’s first Make a Difference Day which brought out nearly 70 citizens for a day of clean up in Blaine.

Other major accomplishments: Other accomplishments during 2001 include the adoption of the following: Adoption of 2002 annual budget; hiring a new city attorney; Blaine Clean-Up Day; development of capital improvement plans for water, wastewater and electric; adoption of six-year transportation plan; Martin Street improvement; update of fire code; adoption of lease law; adoption of sign code; adoption of manufactured housing code..

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