Residentsponder future of east Blaine

Published on Thu, Sep 29, 2005 by ara Nelson

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Residents ponder future of east Blaine

By Tara Nelson

Blaine residents, developers and city officials gathered to discuss planning of east Blaine at one of the Blaine community workshops at the Blaine fire station last week.

The two-day workshop included presentations by community development director Terry Galvin and Ken Hertz, owner of Blossom Management, and was aimed at including public comment in the development of his Grandis Pond subdivision proposal between H Street and the Canadian border.

Galvin said that the state Growth Management Act requires that cities develop areas zoned for urban growth before further annexation can occur, so as to prevent urban sprawl. Further, Galvin said although he believes the annexation of east Blaine was a poor decision, de-annexation would not be an option because of threatened lawsuits from landowners.

“I frankly don’t agree that was a very good annexation at all,” Galvin said. “But it’s not something I can undo. We would be faced with multiple lawsuits,” he said. “It’s a hard one to swallow but as community development director that’s one of the challenges I have to face.”

Galvin said that rather than trying to stop growth, the meeting was meant to steer growth in a direction that is consistent with the vision of the community.

“This has got to be a plan, not just rammed down the throat of the community, but rather reflects the goals and the preferences of the community,” Galvin said.

Many residents who attended the meeting, however, expressed general apprehensions about growth, including concerns for maintaining a rural atmosphere and their disapproval of the 1995 annexation of aast Blaine, a largely undeveloped chunk of land between the Canadian border to H Street that spans three miles east of the truck route.

Marsha Wahl, who said she has lived in east Blaine since 1953, said she doesn’t like the overwhelming focus there seems to be on attracting retired and wealthy people to the area.

“A growth plan that addresses development should not just look at the economic side of things,” she said. “It should also be looking at 100 years from now.”

Wahl said she would like to see this achieved by including more bike paths, trails, low-density buffer zones, trees, open spaces, and putting more emphasis on attracting medium-income families.

“Not everybody’s a golfer,” she said. “We’re not Semiahmoo by any means, but we do have decent homes. Affordable living isn’t always about a small lot size anyway. It should be fair to everybody.”
Wahl said she would like to see the density in the area relate to the houses that are already there.

Meanwhile, Hertz said he doesn’t have a figure yet, but the average home price could be about $300,000.

Others were concerned about zoning fairness issues, lack of stormwater draining systems, possible flooding as a result of the high water table in the area, as well as a lack of supporting economic opportunities such as jobs and median housing that would keep current residents here. In addition, attendants were generally displeased that Doug Connelly, one of the developers did not show up to the meeting.

Connelly sent his architect to the meeting to collect public input on his 353-home subdivision proposal on 88 acres on the north side of H Street but his presence was not met well.

“Ken Hertz, he genuinely is showing us that he cares about what’s happening,” Wahl said. “Connelly hasn’t been here to stand up for himself. If he wants to have a development he should make a better presentation to us.”

The meetings were part of a community workshop series aimed to include public comment in the 2005 update to the Blaine Comprehensive Plan.

A first draft of the plan with public comment included will be available for distribution on October 14 and will be presented to the council at a work session on October 27 with time for public comment following at 7:30 p.m. Additional public comment time is scheduled during council meetings on Nov. 2, 9, and 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Galvin said he expects the plan to be adopted by early next year.