After public outcry against outright acquisition of private property in east Blaine, Blaine City Council has voted to approve an agreement that will allow survey crews onto the land.
City council members voted unanimously at their January 9 meeting to direct Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic to sign an agreement between the city and the Robert D. Martin Family Company, the owners of the land. The agreement will allow survey crews to access the land and determine whether stretching sewer lines and other utilities under the parcels to east Blaine would be feasible.
The property in question comprises two parcels in east Blaine between Harvey Road and the proposed Grandis Pond development. The Robert D. Martin Family Company owns the property, which Blaine City Council initially voted to acquire via eminent domain in October.
Due to an address error that sent the notification of the October vote to the incorrect address, city council had to vote again in December to acquire the property via eminent domain. City council chose to table this vote until the property could be surveyed and studied.
The agreement requires city officials give at least three days notice to the Martin family before setting foot on the properties. City attorney Jon Sitkin said the access agreement will end December 31, 2012, but he expects the survey work to be done early in the year.
“I would be shocked if we went into July or August with this,” Sitkin said.
Acting public works director Bill Bullock said public works staff will now seek proposals from qualified survey firms to conduct a detailed analysis of the property. Bullock said a proposal should be ready for city council to vote on by the January 23 council meeting.
The results of the land survey will become part of a study comparing the costs of establishing a utility corridor along the Martin property to doing the same beneath H Street, Bullock explained. City council requested a comparison of the two routes so an informed choice about the utility corridor could be made.
The city initially sought to acquire the land to carve a 30-foot-wide, 2,700-foot-long utility corridor through the property that would feed future development in east Blaine. The Martin family resisted this idea citing the wetlands on the 144 acres of land that could be damaged by the installation of utilities.
City council received several comments from Blaine residents and other community members against the city acquiring the land at previous city council meetings, including from Whatcom County Council member Barbara Brenner and state representative Jason Overstreet (R-Blaine). Those against the acquisition thought the city should consider all alternatives when extending utilities to east Blaine before taking the Martin property.