Parks board wants the spit to stay in public hands
The Blaine Parks and Cemetery Board expressed its approval
last week of efforts by a group of local citizens to buy
out the land intended for the Seagrass Cottages Development
on Semiahmoo Spit.
“As a lifelong Blaine resident I hate to see it get covered over with houses, and I know how hard it will be to keep the water quality up in Drayton Harbor if we build too much around the edges,” said board member Charlie Hawkins after the meeting.
board heard a presentation by Ron Miller, representing
what he described as a group of concerned area citizens, in which he asked
for their help in acquiring the 23 acre property. “We believe there is a unique
window of opportunity,” Miller
said, “since the developers have said they are open to discussion of a
purchase for open space.”
The developer is Gepetto, LLC, and has an Olympia address but is represented by Jon Syre of Bellingham’s Trillium Corporation. Trillium sold the land to Gepetto but will re-acquire it in early 2005, Syre said.
Miller said that his group has over 300 Blaine residents who have signed a petition that asks the city of Blaine to delay final approval of the project until a new study can be made of all planned development on the spit, and also that a citizens’ committee be formed to explore ways to fund the purchase of the property without using tax-generated revenues to do it.
According to Miller, there are two additional projects planned for the east end Semiahmoo Spit, each of which would be multi-unit facilities. “We want to make sure the public looks at all the projects together,” he said, “not only Seagrass but these other two, and then there’s a bunch of other stuff being talked about. Each one may have relatively minor effects but there’s a net effect of all of them together that we need to talk about.”
Miller added that the comprehensive plan under which the Seagrass project was approved is over 20 years old and predates development on the spit. “They also want to make a number of substantial changes to what was planned, such as relocating roads,” said Miller.
The board members agreed that acquiring the property for open space is a good idea but voted only to ask the Blaine city council for direction. “We have to be careful about conflict of interest,” Hawkins said, “because the council will ultimately have to rule on the developer’s permit application. We’re in favor of Miller’s plan but how we get involved as a board is up to the city council.”
Blaine’s community development director Terry Galvin, acting as the state environmental protection officer (SEPA), has set forth 27 requirements for the developer to meet in order to have permit approval for the Seagrass project. A related public hearing scheduled for January 13 has been delayed. Galvin is also the city staff assigned to meet with the parks board and heard Miller’s presentation.