Citycouncil nixes Seagrass cottages project

Published on Thu, Oct 27, 2005 by eg Olson

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City council nixes Seagrass cottages project

By Meg Olson

“No surprises tonight,” said Trillium project manager Pam Andrews after city council voted quickly and unanimously to deny the developer’s application to build 70 new homes on Semiahmoo Spit.
The Seagrass Cottages proposal for 35 duplex lots on 22 acres owned by Gepetto Properties has gone through over two years of city review. The city held over a dozen meetings, reviewed 370 letters from the community and hundreds of pages of submissions from the applicant. “It comes down to one dominant issue,” said city community development director Terry Galvin. “Is the project in compliance with the comprehensive plan, with the master plan, in its clustering, dune clustering?”

The city planning commission’s recommendation was no, it didn’t, and the city should deny the application. Their conclusion was that the proposal was for linear, parallel lots while the 1984 Resort Semiahmoo master development plan required high-density “beach clusters” surrounded by open space.

The council agreed and in their findings of fact stated that the proposal as submitted “defeats the carefully planned balance and integration of mixed uses,” established by the master plan.

In July, several days before the planning commission decision on the project, Trillium had asked the city to consider a new layout for the project. As public comment on the project had closed two months earlier the planning commission and then city council declined to consider the request to submit the new site plan, which Andrews said addressed the clustering issue. “I think it would have brought us a lot closer,” Andrews said.

The October 24 vote may have knocked the proposal off the table, but it’s not likely to stay there. “A new application or an appeal is almost certain,” said Lincoln Rutter a Blaine resident. “I think the city did a good job identifying the conditions for environmental mitigation in this sensitive area and I hope they apply them to any future application.”

Trillium has a 10-day window to decide whether to appeal the city’s decision. “We need to look at it and see what actions we’ll take,” said Trillium attorney Sandy Mackie. He restated Trillium Corporation’s position, outlined in a September 1 letter, that the city has taken a subjective approach to clustering. “As you go through you see the changing nature of clustering and that gives us pause.”