Mark your calendar: City of Blaine announces lineup of public hearings

Residents of Blaine are invited to weigh in on a series of issues facing the city at a host of public hearings scheduled into February. All meetings listed below take place at Blaine City Hall, located at 435 Martin Street, suite 4000. Here’s a tentative list of what’s on deck for the weeks to come:

What: The establishment of a Transportation Benefit District in Blaine.
When: Mondays, January 23 and February 13, 6 p.m.

The city of Blaine is gathering public input on a proposal to form a Transportation Benefit District. The district would effectively fund transportation projects for streets, sidewalks and trails through a .2 percent increase in the citywide sales tax.

Blaine City Council has the authority to establish a district through an ordinance, however alterations to the existing sales tax require a simple majority of approval from voters.

If approved, Blaine’s sales tax would increase from 8.5 to 8.7 percent and generate an estimated $200,000 annually for transportation projects for a period of 10 years. Already, several cities throughout Washington leverage funding through a Transportation Benefit District, including Bellingham, Lynden and Ferndale.

Public outreach efforts kicked off in December and will continue with two public hearings before the city is expected to vote whether or not to form the district and subsequently place a sales tax measure on the ballot as early as the April 2017 special election.

What: A proposal to amend Blaine’s six-year transportation improvement program (TIP)
When: Monday, January 23, 6 p.m.

Blaine’s Public Works Department is recommending changes to the 2017-2022 six-year transportation improvement program (TIP) as city staff stride forward on efforts to form a Transportation Benefit District in Blaine.

At a regular Blaine City Council meeting on January 9, public works director Ravyn Whitewolf said the amendment will allow for the inclusion of nine additional transportation projects identified by residents in October through a citywide

If the project additions meet the approval of city council, the amended list will be submitted to the Whatcom Council of Governments for inclusion in the statewide transportation improvement program. Only projects included on the TIP are eligible for grant assistance and prospective funding derived from the anticipated Transportation Benefit District.

What: Petition to vacate, Blaine Industrial Park
When: Monday, January 23, 6 p.m.

In a petition dating back to January 2009, Eugen and Edith Klein made a request to vacate street rights of way on their property on Pipeline Road and Yew Avenue.

In a site plan application submitted to the city of Blaine in January 2009 under the project name “Blaine Industrial Park,” applicants detailed plans to construct a 480,600-square-foot industrial park with parking, truck loading capabilities and associated site development.

The hearing will focus on the vacation request to facilitate the application process.

What: Petition to vacate, Northwest Land Company Blaine LLP
When: Monday, January 23, 6 p.m.

Northwest Land Company Blaine LLP and an adjacent property owner petitioned the city of Blaine to vacate an approximate 6,000 square feet of land on the southern end of the Georgia Street right of way.

According to a drafted staff report issued by the Blaine Public Works Department, Northwest Land Company LLC would like to use the space to build a parking lot next to a prospective multifamily housing unit.

What: The installation of an All Hazards Alert Broadcast (AHAB) system in Blaine.
When: Thursday, January 26, 7 p.m.

Blaine’s Planning Commission will host a public hearing on a proposal to construct an All Hazards Alert Broadcast (AHAB) system next to the Lighthouse Point Water Reclamation Facility in Marine Park.

The city of Blaine public safety department is behind the request to construct a 50-foot-tall pole, fixed with an AHAB system, for use in the event of an emergency, such as a tsunami, earthquake or railcar accident. This type of emergency alert system already has a presence in Sandy Point and Point Roberts – Bellingham and Birch Bay will soon join the list.

Following the public hearing, the commission will issue a recommendation to the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE), which has final authority over shoreline conditional use permits. The DOE will have 30 days to make a decision based on the commission’s recommendation.

What: A proposal to amend Blaine’s 2007 Wharf District Master Plan
When: Monday, February 13, 6 p.m.

Blaine City Council voted 6–0 on January 9 to reopen public comment on a proposal to amend the Wharf District Master Plan, which outlines types of permitted uses and development allowances in areas along Marine Drive.

The amendment specifically targets an area called Mariner Village, located between the Blaine Harbor Office and Sundance Yachts, and is currently zoned for water-oriented commercial, retail and service space. The Port of Bellingham submitted the amendment application and is requesting the council to expand permitted use to include marine-related use and to allow for an increase in building height from 45 to 55 feet in one sub-area and 35 to 45 feet in another.

If approved, representatives with Sundance Yachts have expressed interest constructing a 60,000-square-foot, $9 million boat storage facility capable of housing up to 350 boats.

In December, the Blaine Planning Commission issued a recommendation of approval with modifications to the original proposal following a series of public meetings and discussion.

It’s now up to the Blaine City Council to either approve the original application, the modified version presented by the planning commission or a version of their own making; the council can also request more information from city staff or deny the application in full.

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