Confusion arises over water line requirements for Harbor Shores

Published on Wed, Jul 11, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Birch Bay Water and Sewer District (BBWSD) officials plan to clarify a policy that, as it stands, could complicate future home construction in the Harbor Shores development just south of Dakota Creek.

Confusion has emerged over what the developer behind the Harbor Shores community, Skip Jansen, needs to provide water to more lots in the development. Currently, five homes in Harbor Shores have water service, and Jansen wants to extend the same services to the 43 other lots in the development.

BBWSD has been serving the existing homes with water using 4-inch water lines running to each home since 2008, Jansen explained. But when Jansen went to the district to secure water service for the other lots in the development, BBWSD staff told him he would need to install 16-inch water lines leading to each lot.

The new requirements came after the district changed its comprehensive plan in 2009 to include a proposed 16-inch water transmission line running from Blaine to Birch Bay underneath Harbor Shores. The 43 undeveloped lots, Jansen was told, would need to hook up to this line and would therefore need 16-inch connectors running from them.

Jansen said he was not told about this change until last month. He maintained the district had promised the development water in 2006 without needing to upsize the 4-inch lines.

“It’s very misleading and unfair to have us go through this process and then spring this surprise on us,” Jansen said at a recent BBWSD commissioners meeting.

The 16-inch line, which has yet to be built, would bring more water from Blaine to Birch Bay to accommodate population growth, district manager Roger Brown said. However, district assistant manager Dan Eisses said at the June 14 BBWSD commissioners meeting that district staff are not sure if the 16-inch line will even be needed in a 30-year timeframe.

“The question is whether the line would be actually needed given current growth,” Brown said.

At their June 28 meeting, district commissioners directed staff to scrutinize the requirements in question and see if any changes need to be made.

In a later interview, Brown said commissioners could be asked to consider some change in the requirements at their July 12 meeting that would allow the district to serve the remaining Harbor Shores lots using the existing 4-inch water lines.