Trustfor Public Land opts out of spit purchase

Published on Thu, May 5, 2005 by ack Kintner

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Trust for Public Land opts out of spit purchase

By Jack Kintner

Saying that they did not find a “willing seller” in Trillium Corporation, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) has backed out of negotiations to purchase the site of the Seagrass Condominium project on Semiahmoo spit.

The news came as a blow to some local residents who had hoped that a bona fide offer to purchase the land would prevent development of a 22-acre parcel that lies immediately west of the Semiahmoo Resort complex at the end of Semiahmoo spit. Trillium Corporation is seeking Blaine planning commission approval for 72 condominium units to be built as duplex cottages on the property. “We were disappointed but not totally surprised to receive this news,” said Trevor Hoskins, co-chair along with Ron Miller of the Spit Preservation Committee. Both are Semiahmoo residents.

“In our meetings with the applicant and with the TPL, both expressed a willingness to discuss this possibility, but certainly neither party gave us any kind of guarantee that [the sale] would happen,” Hoskins said, “however, we hope that the door has not been completely closed, particularly as the building application is still being considered.”

TPL project director Peter Dykstra said in a prepared statement that, “The Trust for Public Land inquired with Trillium regarding the possibility of acquiring the Seagrass Cottages site. Trillium indicated its desire to move forward with its development plans for the property, rather than pursue an acquisition by TPL.”

Dykstra indicated that “if circumstances change” the TPL could still become involved, “and Trillium is aware of that. I believe that if Trillium were to decide that acquisition for public open space was an alternative they want to consider for Seagrass Cottages, they will contact TPL.”

Pam Andrews, Trillium’s project director for the Seagrass Condominium project, verified that TPL had been in conversation with Trillium president David Syre but declined to comment on the substance of their conversation. Syre is currently out of town on business.

“This makes the planning commission’s decisions on the project just that much more crucial,” said Hoskins, referring to appeals filed before the commission in response to Blaine community development director Terry Galvin’s state environmental policy act review of the project last fall. Galvin found 27 conditions that, if satisfied, would result in the project being declared of “non-significance,” which would then lead to the required permits being issued.

Trillium appealed some of the conditions as being too strict, while another group, representatives of The Pointe at Semiahmoo Homeowners Association, ap-pealed other conditions as being not restrictive enough and cited some of the site studies, especially those dealing with sea birds, as inadequate.

The planning commission heard several hours of testimony from both Trillium and the public last winter and is now considering the appeals.
A third group, the Spit Preservation Committee, sought to purchase the land outright to preserve it as is, working through the TPL, but these plans have now fallen through.