County to rule on seven story project
Builders will start work within 12 months on Terrell Creek Villas on the Bay, featuring, at seven stories, the tallest building yet to abut the Birch Bay shoreline.
The developer, however, is at pains to emphasize what’s not being built, which is a permitted nine-unit condo on the small peninsula that is separated by Terrell Creek from Birch Bay Drive. The site is where an amusement park was once located.
“We just couldn’t see putting
any units out there at all,” said Larry Willman of
the land use consulting firm Intergroup Development in
an interview November 15. Instead, Willman said, the area
will have walking paths and some private picnicking areas
for Terrell Creek Villa residents. The parcel is just north
of the BayRim Condominium complex, and north of the Alderson
Road Birch Bay Drive intersection.
Willman, whose firm represents the property’s owner Pacific Land and Development, said that a nine-unit condominium project was permitted five years ago on that property but was never built. Architect David Christensen has instead designed three buildings that will be constructed on the part of the 10.5 acre tract that lies east of Birch Bay Drive. Two of the buildings will be 35 feet tall and will stand at the site’s north and south extremities.
The third, the 75-foot high seven story tower, will be set back from the other two buildings to provide a central courtyard and break up what otherwise might have been a broad expansive mass right on Birch Bay Drive.
“Rather than build the biggest in front, we’re reversing that,” Willman said, “and then behind the tower are the wetlands. When we’re finished only 25 percent of the area will actually be developed, and the other 75 percent will be left.
Willman hosted a neighborhood meeting Wednesday, November 16 at the Birch Bay Community Church on Jackson Road to describe the project. In addition to normal building permits it will require both a conditional use permit for the 75-foot building height and a shoreline substantial development permit because of its location and value.
The Whatcom County Planning and Development staff have recommended conditional approval. The matter will be reviewed in a public hearing by Whatcom County hearing examiner Michael Bobbink on December 14.