Hertzgiving go-ahead on 650 home development

Published on Thu, Jan 20, 2005 by ack Kintner

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Hertz giving go-ahead on 650 home development

By Jack Kintner

Bellingham developer Ken Hertz said earlier this week in meetings with Blaine city officials that he will go ahead with his plans to buy the 450-acre development property once known as Vicwood for $2.7 million. Hertz said he will close on the east Blaine property on February 3, and hopes eventually to build 650 or more homes in planned phases even though “about 200 acres or so of it can’t be built on,” he said.

Aside from land taken by roads and other amenities, this is due to extensive wetlands, the biggest of which is a roughly 74 acre parcel that sits nearly in the middle of the essentially rectangular parcel, all of which lies between H Street Road and the Canadian border.

The 74 acres qualifies as a category one wetland, “the largest and most well-preserved wetland within the city limits,” to quote the parks plan generated by the city’s department of community development last August. The city hopes to create the “East Blaine Conservancy Park” of about 100 acres with the large wetland as its primary feature, including the 25 to 30 acre seasonal pond that lies at its center.

Whether the city or the developer will build the park and maintain it has yet to be decided, but it’s something Hertz would also like to see happen. The former two-term mayor of Bellingham originally came to Whatcom County as director of Whatcom County parks, at the time an independent agency that has since been absorbed into the structure of county government, and is still proud of the network of parks he helped build.

“I’d like to see that [wetland and surrounding] area with trails and a park-like setting,” Hertz said, adding that once he closes on the property, much of the first year will be spent in working out such details with the city of Blaine under details involved with creating a planned unit development (PUD) under which building will proceed.
Hertz pointed out that his company, Blossom Management, has done much the same thing in the Malibu development near the south end of Birch Bay Drive. “Of the 90 acres, we gave back 45 to the county,” Hertz said, “including tidelands and tideland rights, and that still left room for 101 lots.”

Hertz said he also hoped to involve some of the federal agencies responsible for border security in planning some of the specifics in developing his Blaine property. There are “three miles of border” along the northern edge, much of it easily accessible from O Avenue, the road that runs along the entire north side of the parcel just across the shallow ditch that marks the international boundary.

The parcel, once called Vicwood, is as yet unnamed. “Maybe I should have a contest,” Hertz suggested.