Final public hearing held to discuss Semiahmoo development proposal

By Stefanie Donahue

The Blaine Planning Commission held a final public hearing on a proposed development slated for the corner of Semiahmoo Parkway and Drayton
Harbor Road.

The September 8 meeting was the final opportunity for members of the public to offer comments for consideration before the commission prepares its recommendation for review by
city council.

Bellingham-based Rimland Pacific is planning to construct a phased single- and multi-family, gated housing and commercial development under the name Sea Smoke. The project proposal includes an indoor storage facility, a small commercial center and park.

The hearing gave city staff and developers an opportunity to address comments expressed by citizens who attended the first public hearing in August.

Traffic congestion, speeding and safety, for example, had been a point of concern for residents. To address a potential surge in population and traffic density, the plan includes alterations to existing roadways and access points.

At Thursday’s meeting, city staff reported that only two traffic incidents were reported at the intersection between Semiahmoo Parkway and Semiahmoo Drive, dating back to 2008 and 2010.

In addition to the comments on traffic, city staff addressed the recommended development of a 22,000-square-foot indoor storage facility adjacent to Semiahmoo Drive. The storage facility would address storage needs for local residents, said Wayne Schwandt with Rimland Pacific. “[Storage facilities] are everywhere” in Birch Bay, he said.

Commissioner Kevin Owens stated the idea of a storage facility had concerned him at first glance. However, “When I saw the illustration, that [was] a very different story,” he said.

The Semiahmoo Resort Association has held negotiations with the developer about various aspects of the project and both parties have expressed interest in continuing to work together.

“We purposefully are approaching this project in phases,” Schwandt said. “We want to take it slow. We want to make darned sure that we are doing it right.”

Although the public comment period has closed, planning commissioners will still be discussing the project in open session.

The commissioners will hold a study session prior to their next meeting on Thursday, September 22 when they will consider archived public comment before proposing a recommendation to go before city council.

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