Cityextends public comment on East Maple Ridge

Published on Thu, Mar 29, 2007 by ara Nelson

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City extends public comment on East Maple Ridge

By Tara Nelson

East Blaine residents worried about storm water management with regards to a 353-unit planned development will have additional time to express their concerns following a Blaine planning commission decision last week.

In their regular meeting Thursday, commissioners voted 5-0 to extend the public comment period for the mixed-use East Maple Ridge development citing the need for more detailed information from project applicant Connelly Company, LLC, headed by Blaine developer Doug Connelly.

Alex Winger, a planner for the Blaine community development department, said because of the project’s size and scope – 353 units on 88 acres – department officials had recommended the planning commission request more detailed information before moving forward with the review process.

“For something this big, the city needs to have a great deal of information on the proposal,” he said. “We have to make sure that what gets approved gives the city the tools to be able to manage the development in the future there.”

But nearby residents such as Kitty King, of Lee Lane, which lies directly south of the development, had expressed concerns about storm water drainage and planned clearing of 88 acres currently forested with a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees.

King said since the Connelly Company began clearing brush in 2006, she and surrounding residents started noticing increased storm water entering their property, culminating with a neighbor’s clogged drainage pipe in January that flooded the neighborhood, and costing her family $1,200 to build a trench and install a curtain drain on her property.

The damage would have been worse had neighbors not shown up with shovels in hand to assist in the construction, she said.
“We’re draining a lot more water than what naturally occurs here,” she said.
King said although she held a meeting with Whatcom County executive Pete Kremen and other county officials in January to discuss the problem, she is worried that Connelly’s plans to clear the 88 acres for a development with 40 percent impermeable surface area could exacerbate the problem.

“We’re south of there, so we’re kind of uncomfortable with that idea,” she said. “We’d really like to know what they’re going to do with that water.”

King said she hopes the planning commission will look at the issue in more detail before a recommendation is made to the city council.

“I don’t feel like the storm water issues were adequately addressed,” she said.

Nathan Row, a consultant of APC, Associated Project Consultants Inc (APC), an independent consulting business, said the Connelly Company plans to mitigate storm water by maintaining natural drainage patterns and swales, or depressed grassy areas, between homes and along side roads to slow runoff. In addition, the project plans for 36 acres of open space, wetlands and an on-site storm water retention pond.

According to a drainage report prepared by APC, 64 percent of the property slopes gently to the south and southwest, while the remaining 36 percent slopes to the northwest.

Terry Clarke, of N. Harvey Road, however, disagreed. Clarke said he owns property directly south of the development, and that the report failed to mention the southeastern-facing slope on the east side of the property.

“It’s crazy, the land slopes toward my place, they would have to channel water uphill,” he said.

The planning commission has scheduled a work session for 5:30 p.m. March 29 at the Blaine City Council chambers. Although the meeting will be closed to public comment, an additional public comment hearing will be scheduled before the commission makes a recommendation, planning commission chair Jeff Artnzen said.