County council will discuss Cherry Point Terminal permitting process

Published on Fri, Jul 8, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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According to the agenda for the Tuesday, July 12, Whatcom County Council meeting, the council will meet in committee of the whole Tuesday morning to discuss the permitting process for the Gateway Pacific Terminal. I'm sure no decisions will be made, but it would most likely provide some useful insight into the extensive permitting process coming down the pipe for SSA Marine and their proposed terminal.

Interestingly, there is no specific time set for this particular committee of the whole meeting, only a notation saying the meeting starts immediately after the council natural resources committee meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m. The next scheduled committee meeting starts at 11 a.m., so county staff can't be expecting the committee of the whole meeting to last more than one hour or so.
I went to a similar meeting in April in which the council natural resources committee discussed the permitting process with county public works project manager Roland Middleton. At that meeting, Middleton explained to the council (most of the seven members were there, even though it was just a committee meeting) what they could and could not say in public regarding the terminal. You can read the story I wrote about it here.

Now that SSA Marine has submitted permits to the county, the project moves from county public works' jurisdiction to that of the county planning and development services (PDS) and county planning supervisor Tyler Schroeder. PDS has a great webpage devoted to the terminal project with links to the reams of documents that have been generated recently in relation to the project.

The project has gone through some permitting drama recently, which I've covered here and here (links are in chronological order). Long story short, SSA Marine tried to submit substantial changes to its existing 1997 county permits as revisions to the existing permits, as opposed to submitting all knew permits. PDS, via Schroeder, said no and told SSA Marine they have to submit new permits. Most recently, SSA Marine, through their lawyer William Lynn of Seattle law firm Gordon Thomas Honeywell, said they want clarification of the PDS decision to reject SSA Marine's permit revisions. You can read Lynn's most recent letter here.

I will try my best to make it to the meeting, but Tuesday mornings are historically busy at the paper.



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