Cityworking through comp plan

Published on Thu, Aug 25, 2005 by ara Nelson

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City working through comp plan

By Tara Nelson

About 20 residents from Blaine and surrounding areas gathered at the Blaine fire station last week to discuss possible rezoning near H and D streets as well as near the Blaine International Mall and the south end of Peace Portal Drive.

The meetings are part of a series to include the community in the 2005 update of the city’s comprehensive plan and are divided by commercial, industrial and residential zoned areas.

Blaine community development director Terry Galvin said one of the commercial areas the city is looking at rezoning is a stretch of Peace Portal Drive on the south end, just past the former Chuck’s Drive-In. Galvin said the area suffers from right-of-way problems, as well as problems arising from lack of access from I-5 and mixed zoning.
“It’s zoned three different districts and they’re all in conflict with each other,” he said.

Galvin suggested rezoning the area to mixed residential and commercial which could allow for such businesses as automotive retail outlets, live-above workplaces or light-impact industrial complexes with retail businesses in front, he said. He also suggested a four-way freeway interchange to improve accessibility, but that would likely require lobbying for state transportation funds.

“We have a critical problem in Blaine: It’s that we have only one exit going south,” Galvin said. “Who’s going to go all the way to Birch Bay-Lynden Road and then turn around? There’s a lot of missed opportunities there.”

Another area the city is looking at rezoning is the area along State Route 543, better known as the truck route, to improve accessibility for large trucks.

“If you have a truck and you want to deliver something to the industrial area it’s very difficult,” he said.

The city is also looking at expanding the commercially zoned area surrounding the Blaine International Mall on H Street. Galvin said he would like to see that area expanded to include three or four acres to the east of Odell Street, with a light-impact commercial zone acting as a buffer between residential and industrial areas.

Galvin said he also anticipates several developments on the north side of H and D streets and discussed allowing mixed residential and commercial in those areas, as well.

“The area to the east of the truck stop on H Street is not well planned out, yet it is the most viable local access commercial area in the city,” he said. “It really needs to be zoned for commercial use.”

Patrick Rooney, who owns five acres of industrial land immediately to the south of the mall area and attended the meeting, said he was concerned the expansion could create pressure from neighboring residents to move his business elsewhere.
Galvin agreed.

“If you create housing next to an industrial area, the pressure from the housing could push the industry out,” he said.

Others suggested the possibility of allowing apartments above businesses as well as creating a pedestrian facility at the lower end of Lincoln Park that could allow better access to commercial businesses.
Lois Franco, of Blaine, said she found the meeting helpful but wished more people would have attended.

“I think (the city) really wants people’s involvements,” she said. “It’s too bad there wasn’t a greater representation of the broader community.”

Franco, who lives on Great Horned Owl Lane, said she thinks the meetings are important in order to make strategic decisions that are in line with the direction the community wants to take.

“If people don’t say what they want, it will be the developers that will hit and run,” she said.

The next meeting series will focus on residential planning in central Blaine and is scheduled for September 6,7 and 8. Planning meetings for east and west Blaine will follow later that month, and meetings for the industrial districts are scheduled for October 5 and 6. Also, the city has scheduled a town meeting to review a draft of the city’s comprehensive plan for October 11, 12 and 13.

For more information, call the Blaine planning department at 332-8311.