By Stefanie Donahue
A band of residents from Semiahmoo convened at Blaine City Hall on August 25 to sound their concerns and acclaim for a development proposal submitted to the city in late June.
Led by Bellingham-based Rimland Pacific, the proposal recommends single-family, and potentially multi-family, residential housing development and the construction of an indoor storage facility, a small commercial center and a park at the southwest corner of Semiahmoo Parkway and Drayton Harbor Road.
Planning commissioners at their August 25 meeting fielded a multitude of responses from the public – and it wasn’t the first time residents aired their opinions. A meeting back in April noted attendance of more than 90 people, and several left written comments behind.
It is the responsibility of Blaine’s Planning Commission to archive public comment and later use it as a frame of reference when they compile a recommendation to the city council for a final vote.
The project proposal calls for development of about 19 acres of land. The location sits north of the North Whatcom Fire and Rescue firehall and is currently home to wildlife and green space. The triangular plot is bordered by Semiahmoo Drive, Semiahmoo Parkway and more greenery.
Project proponents would like to see the construction of a gated community comprised of 40 units designated for single-family townhouses or paired units in the first wave of development. A potential second phase of development would increase that total to 78 to 119 units.
The proposal also includes an indoor storage facility, spanning 22,000 square feet, adjacent to Semiahmoo Drive. A small commercial center and park, to be owned either by the city or a neighborhood association, could come later, if approved.
Development will result in changes to traffic patterns and density, alterations to existing roadways and access points and the partial elimination of the existing wildlife habitat – all just a few of the concerns addressed by the public to date.
In an August 25 letter addressed to Blaine planning commissioners, members of the Semiahmoo Resort Association said the proposed storage facility and potential for commercial development in the area “…are so different from the surrounding community that the character of the neighborhood will unavoidably be impacted.”
While no agreement has been reached, members of the association are in discussion with developers and hope to negotiate an agreement that is satisfying for both parties, and note that they have no objections to development, according to the letter.
Moving forward, the public still has the chance to comment on the proposal.
The planning commission has agreed to extend public comment to its Thursday, September 8 meeting.
An updated review conducted under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) will be presented to commissioners following concerns expressed by the Whatcom County Public Works Department about the project’s traffic implications to off-site roadways.
To learn more, visit ci.blaine.wa.us. A series of detailed planning documents are available for public review.