City council approves first East Maple Ridge plat, setting east Blaine development in motion

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A portion of a 353-unit development received final plat approval from Blaine City Council during its September 13 meeting, allowing land developer Skip Jansen to turn 48 single-family lots and 12 multi-family parcels that will contain 48 units over to independent construction companies.

In June 2020, city council approved a preliminary plat for East Maple Ridge, a 88-acre development area north of H Street, east of Jerome Street and west of Harvey Road, near Pipeline Field, that would consist of 353 units. According to the application, final plats of the preliminary plat will be submitted for approval in up to 13 phases. This first approval consisted of phases 1 through 3.

“It’s a relief,” Jansen said. “Oh man, what a long haul.”

Jansen said the development, which has been in the works for decades, will include a city park, three ponds, bike and pedestrian paths, a sports field and hundreds of mature maple and evergreen trees. The proposed development plan also includes a neighborhood commercial center with 24,000 square feet of commercial space.

The expected $6 million east Blaine sewer system update – one of the largest projects the city is currently tackling – and contractor negotiation issues initially delayed approval. Public works director Bernie Ziemianek said in a project study session that public works is scheduled to start construction on the six-month sewer project in spring 2022.

Jensen of East Maple Ridge LLC currently owns half of the preliminary plat while Doug and Louise Connelly own the other half, according to the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office.

The East Maple Ridge project began in 1996 after the city annexed the property. The city adopted its east Blaine infrastructure plan, which guided the development of utilities to the area, in 2009. City manager Michael Jones said during the meeting the city invested over $2 million for a water and electric extension to connect the east Blaine area.

“Tonight, with the approval of that final plat, is kudos to many folks,” Jones said. “It’s a big step in the process of developing east Blaine. I don’t want that to go unnoticed because it’s been a long time coming.”

City councilmember Charlie Hawkins noted the annexation in 1996 was the first thing his wife Marsha voted on when she came on council.

Community development director Stacie Pratschner said during a presentation last June on the preliminary plat that the east Blaine area is projected to support almost 40 percent of the city’s needed housing stock over the next 20 years.

If Grandis Pond, a housing project east of Harvey Road, is approved, it would develop 387 residential lots in its first phase and about 1,000 total within the next 20 to 30 years.

The first phase for Grandis Pond would include seven neighborhoods with a mix of single-family homes and cottage homes, according to the project’s preliminary plat approval. Of the 438 total acres, 190 will be open space, wildlife corridors and parks, according to the project website.

The next phase of the East Maple Ridge project, which will consist of 67 single-family units and eight multifamily parcels, is scheduled to be completed by early summer 2022, Jansen said.

“It’s an exciting project and a beautiful piece of property,” he said.

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