County council moves Birch Bay rezone vote to public hearing

Published on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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The public at large will get another chance to comment on the potential rezone of nearly 500 acres of land just south of Drayton Harbor at the October 11 Whatcom County Council meeting.

The county council voted 6-1 Tuesday night, with council member Sam Crawford voting against, to include a public hearing with a vote to rezone 470 acres of land in northern Birch Bay. The council could have approved the zoning change without a hearing, but the majority of the council thought more public input was needed.

County council member Bill Knutzen said the council planning and development committee, composed of him and council members Barbara Brenner and Ken Mann, had voted 3-0 Tuesday afternoon to include a public hearing with the vote. Knutzen said representatives from the Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District Advisory Committee told him they had only heard of the potential rezone a few days before the vote was to take place.

Since the rezone, which would change the land’s current zoning from one house per 10 acres to one house per five, is so close to Drayton Harbor, the advisory committee members felt they should have been consulted more. Brenner said she was in favor of the public hearing because the advisory committee was created to provide input on just these sorts of issues.
“[The public hearing] is no big deal,” Brenner said. “It’s just a step we take sometimes.”

Crawford, who originally proposed the zoning change, said he was not certain what holding a public hearing will do. He said the public had the chance to comment on the rezone at a July 28 planning commission meeting.

The rezone, if approved, could result in 38 more parcels on the 470-acre swath of land. A November 2009 county council vote downzoned the land from four homes per acre to R10, and Crawford submitted the proposed rezone to R5 after multiple complaints from landowners in the area.

The land in question is bordered by Lincoln Road to the south, Harborview Road to the east, Drayton Harbor Road to the north and stretches just past Shintaffer road to the west.