Locals oppose Trillium plans for more condos

Published on Thu, Jan 9, 2003 by Meg Olson

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Locals oppose Trillium plans for more condos

By Meg Olson

A newly-formed watchdog group is raising a red flag over Trillium plans for more condominiums on Semiahmoo Spit.

“I feel the spit is an ecological resource as habitat for birds, shellfish and other species,” said Lincoln Rutter of the Partnership for Responsible Development. “No amount of mitigation can prevent degradation of that environment. The spit is too narrow.” Rutter also said Trillium was jeopardizing the thing that draws people to the area, as visitors or property owners. “Look at the spit then look at Sandy Point all developed. Where would you choose to go?”

Trillium has yet to apply to the city for any additional development on Semiahmoo Spit, but has had several pre-application meetings with city staff. Trillium representative Carolyn Yatsu said they hope to have an application ready in the next two weeks when more details on the project will be available.

City planner Russell Nelson said the concept being discussed was a “beach cottage type condominium project” on both sides of Semiahmoo Parkway to the south and west of the existing Beachwalker Villas. “Their concept drawing looked at a realignment of the road northwards,” he said.

The 1984 Resort Semiahmoo master development plan projects 260 to 375 residential units will eventually be built on the 57 acres Trillium owns at the end of the spit. So far xx have been built.

Geoff Menzies, chairman of the Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection Advisory District, said he saw development of Trillium land at the end of the spit was probably inevitable, but not necessarily a bad thing. “It’s been in the master plan and that master plan is 20 years old. It could be a great opportunity to showcase low impact development,” he said. “There’s a lot they can do with stormwater management.”

Menzies has been working with Trillium as they build the second phase of the Drayton Hillside subdivision to try and minimize pollution from runoff. “Sites we are the most concerned about are the steep ones,” he said.
“Trillium was very responsive in developing a stormwater system to control fecal coliform.” While the system for Drayton Hillside isn’t perfect, Menzies said they had learned valuable lessons building the series of filters and bioswales to keep bacteria out of the harbor. “There is no requirement now to control bacteria in stormwater and it’s a huge missing link. They certainly made an attempt.”

Rutter said his group was encouraging all members of the public to pay close attention to the project as it makes its way through planning commission review. “People need to know what’s going on and join their voices,” he said.

Partnership for Responsible Development was formed last year to be the voice of homeowners concerned about another Trillium project – clearcutting of 400 acres on Birch Point. The group succeeded in getting the logging stopped on one of five forest practice applications, and is in court to compel the company to undertake stringent mitigation measures.

They contend that the state and county allowed the project to go ahead despite evidence the parcels were located over a groundwater recharge area where clearcutting could destabilize the bluff. They have also submitted a petition to the county with 100 signatories asking for a public review of how the permits were issued.

Even though their finger seems to stay pointed at the same culprit, Rutter said the group is not singling out Trillium. “We’ve expanded to include other ecological and environmental issues,” he said. “I don’t have an axe to grind with Trillium. I admire what they’ve accomplished and that’s why we moved here.”

While open spaces and trees marked the original Semiahmoo development, Rutter said he is concerned the company’s future projects won’t be so green. “We liked what they did with the first development and wish they were doing it now,” he said. “In their marketing literature they talk about a forested environment. That’s a contrast to a clearcut.”.

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