County council to approve smaller Blaine, Birch Bay UGAs

Published on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 by Jack Kintner

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The Whatcom County Council is moving into the final process of approving its 10 urban growth areas (UGA’s), including those of Blaine and Birch Bay to meet a December 1 deadline set by the state’s urban growth management hearings board.

The county planning commission has reviewed the county executive staff’s changes to the UGA’s and have sent their recommendations to the county council for final review, public hearings and implementation.

The county executive recommended reducing both Blaine and Birch Bay’s UGA’s. Birch Bay’s 4,294 acre UGA would lose 976 acres, most of which (767) would become urban reserve if eventually needed. Blaine would lose over 41 percent of the original UGA’s 6,878 acres, most of it along the south shore of Drayton Harbor, if the executive’s recommendations are to be followed.

The council’s planning and development committee, consisting of Bob Kelly, Carl Weimer and chaired by Laurie Caskey-Schreiber, considered these recommendations Tuesday afternoon, inviting representatives from some of the cities involved, including Blaine but not Birch Bay, to answer questions that their plans have raised with the county planning commission.

For Blaine, the planning commission’s preliminary recommendations accepted the executive’s proposal, removing the west Blaine portion of the UGA that occupies roughly the area between the two incorporated parts of Blaine around the south side of Drayton Harbor south to Lincoln Road.

Much of this area, recommended now for rural zoning instead of remaining a part of the UGA, is also recommended to become a transfer of development rights sending area in response to reductions of parts of the Blaine UGA

They also posed a question, asking if more of the growth slated for east Blaine can be accommodated within the present city limits without expanding the UGA, and the testimony was entered into the public record.

For Birch Bay, the planning commission’s preliminary recommendation was to accept the County Executive’s proposal, but the UGA reserve, mostly along Blaine Road, was not recommended and those areas were put back into a rural land use category. No questions were posed by the planning commission.

On Tuesday, November 3, beginning at 9:30 a.m., Caskey-Schreiber’s committee will hear public comments regarding the county UGAs.

The entire document can be seen at the Blaine library or at www.co.whatcom.wa.us/pds/2031/uga.jsp.