Monday, May 24, 2010

Ban on building in Lake Whatcom watershed could be permanent

There is one issue that the Whatcom County Council persist on trying to make ‘everyone’ happy.  How is it that the water quality of Lake Whatcom was perpetually improving until Georgia Pacific was shut down?  Because, after GP shutdown, they no longer drew vast amounts of water out of the lake.  If the County would add circulation to the lake we could easily improve the water in Lake Whatcom. That should satisfy those who profess to only be concerned about retaining and improving the lake as the drinking resource for the community.  So if there is such an inexpensive and easy fix to the water quality issue, why is there complete resistance to it?  Ask your local representative this question; “Why did the water quality go down immediately after GP shut down and how can we replicate it?  Do you really want to maintain and restore Lake Whatcom’s water quality or just stop development in the watershed?”
Quite often I have agreed with Councilwoman Brenner, but on this issue I think she misses the big picture.
Yours in Truth  ;-)  Shelly
POSTED: Monday, May. 24, 2010

Measure would set permanent ban on certain subdivisions


After more than five years of extending a temporary ban on some subdivisions in the Lake Whatcom watershed, county leaders will consider making it permanent.

On Tuesday, May 25, the County Council will hold a hearing and consider a law that won't allow any new subdivisions creating home lots smaller than five acres within the watershed. Eleven times since 2005, the council has passed a six-month moratorium on subdivisions creating such lots, following an original interim moratorium.

The ban is blocking the possible development of about 200 houses. The actual number could be significantly lower because many of the areas have environmental constraints, like wetlands or steep grades, that would make construction impossible.

whatcom kayaking

    Development is largely responsible for the degraded water quality of Lake Whatcom, drinking-water source for roughly half the county, including all of Bellingham.

    "It makes so much sense to me. It's just doing what we've done all along," said County Council member Barbara Brenner, who supports the change. "It just seems like for what we're trying to accomplish in the watershed, I can't think of any other way to do it."

    "We have to look in the interest of the county and city of Bellingham and everybody who drinks that water," she added.

    The latest temporary extension is set to expire in August, and some council members said they didn't want to see it extended yet again. All council members except for Sam Crawford voted in February to approve the last extension. Crawford previously said that many of the new homes, particularly those south of Toad Lake, couldn't be built anyway because of the high cost of building roads to the properties.

    The County Council last fall updated urban growth areas countywide, and part of that decision involved changing zoning to restrict new lots in the Hillsdale and Geneva urban growth areas, which are in the watershed. Now, new lots smaller than five acres aren't allowed in those areas.

    But that left rural areas of the watershed without such restrictions. A separate planning project to rezone rural areas countywide could mean banning new lots smaller than five acres. But that project is still under consideration by the County Council.

    This permanent law would be part of that rural zoning project, just completed before the rest of it, according to a council staff memo.

    Brenner sees the Lake Whatcom changes as different from the rest of the rural zoning anyway.

    "I see this as an important issue for water quality, and the other issues I see as more subjective regarding growth issues," she said.


    What: Whatcom County Council hearing on a draft law that would permanently disallow the creation of new home lots smaller than five acres in unincorporated Lake Whatcom watershed.

    When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 25.

    Where: County Council Chambers, 311 Grand Ave.

    More information: Go to and click on "Regular Whatcom County Council Meeting Agenda," and then click on "AB2010-185."

    Reach JARED PABEN at or call 715-2289. Read his Traffic Blog at

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