Appealto delay Drayton Harbor road repairs until 2008

Published on Thu, Jun 21, 2007 by ack Kintner

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Appeal to delay Drayton Harbor road repairs until 2008

By Jack Kintner

An appeal filed this week contesting the awarding of a shorelines permit needed for the reconstruction of Drayton Harbor Road will delay the project at least a year, according to engineer Chris Brueske of the Whatcom County public works department.

“Bids on the work were due June 26, and we were all ready to go this next month,” Brueske said, “but this appeal automatically delays things 90 days, and because of the way our schedule works it means that we won’t be able to do the work now until next year at the earliest.”

Whatcom County hearing examiner Michael Bobbink had approved a shorelines permit on May 31 sought by Whatcom County Public Works for the project following a hearing on May 23, but Len and Pat Helton, who live at 5183 Drayton Harbor Road near the west end of the closed section, filed an appeal to the Whatcom County Council last week through Bellingham attorney Simi Jain, effectively blocking the project until a suitable construction window re-opens next year.

In a June 13 letter to council chair Carl Weimer, Jain alleged that the county failed to provide timely notice about planning meetings to people living on that section of Drayton Harbor Road.

“The bottom line about why I’m concerned is that we learned that the county plans to cut down all the eagle perch trees in the neighborhood and work well within a half mile of an active eagle’s nest,” Helton said. “They had two and a half years to let us know what’s going on, then I have to file a protest at the last minute because we didn’t have information about how they were going to proceed.”

Semiahmoo resident John Binns, who attended the May 31 hearing along with 15 neighbors, said that he didn’t believe Helton about not receiving timely notice. “Notices go out to all the tax addresses, and we all got them. This project has been delayed long enough. It’s important to finish it before work begins on Lincoln Road,” he said.

The hearing examiner’s written decision says that a mitigated determination of non-significance (MDNS) was issued on April 20, 2007, and that legal notices to that effect were published on May 10, posted on May 9 and mailed out on May 7.

It also states that the hearing examiner provided the opportunity for neighboring property owners to seek clarification and understanding of the proposal from the applicant and staff at the public hearing. The hearing examiner concurred with staff and public concern that this application be expeditiously reviewed and permitted. Bobbink’s approval was subject to the county meeting 19 separate conditions, or mitigations.

The county’s construction schedule, set several years in advance, calls for beginning work on widening Lincoln Road in 2008. A repaired Drayton Harbor Road could be used as a detour, an emergency response route and an evacuation route.

“We knew they wanted to fix the road,” Helton said, “but when were they going to tell us about their plan. You’d think they would tell people that they plan to cut 75 foot trees in their yards, and now they want to put all the Lincoln traffic on here too, [including] all those trucks going to Semiahmoo.” Some of the property owners on the south side of the road, Helton pointed out, also own the land between Drayton Harbor Road as the shoreline.
County executive Pete Kremen, who has met several times with Semiahmoo residents over the issue, was in Washington, D.C. and could not be reached.
The appeal itself will be heard eventually by the county council but prior to that, the Helton’s must provide the council with a written transcript of the part of the approval process they claim was in error.