News from the Blaine City Council meeting on April 23. 

Blaine City Council to consider changing design standards in south Blaine

Spurred by an informal request from city councilmember Meg Olson, staff with the city presented a resolution to city council on April 23 that would initiate changes to design standards in parts of south Blaine.

The resolution, which was approved in a 5–0 vote by the council, directs staff from the city’s Community Development Services department to process a zoning code amendment targeted at commercial areas in south Blaine, including zoning districts that surround I-5 and Exit 274. Currently, municipal code provides limited regulation related to building design or most commercial areas, according to the resolution.

“Building design standards are a valuable tool that can be used to regulate the aesthetic character of a neighborhood or area of the city,” read a staff report prepared by interim city manager Michael Jones.

Preparing the zoning code amendment will cost the city; the combination of staff time, publication of notices and potential consulting services will cost about $10,000 to $20,000, Jones said. Plus, “We’re sort of short in community development services,” he said in relation to his April 16 appointment to serve as interim city manager.

Prior, he was the city’s community development director.

“You should expect this to be nine to 12 months before anything gets back to you,” he said.

Public hearings set to discuss changes to public services, impact fee levels

Blaine City Council voted 5–0 to schedule two public hearings in May that focus on updating code.

The first hearing, scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, May 14 at city hall, focuses on Title 13, a section of Blaine Municipal Code that pertains to city utilities. According to a staff report prepared by public works director Ravyn Whitewolf, Title 13 contains inconsistencies between sections that need to be addressed.

The recommended changes touch on topics related to the calculation of Equivalent Residential Units (ERUs) for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), hotel/motels, duplexes and multifamily homes. Additionally, the city is considering broadening where sanitary sewer line is permitted outside of city limits. If sewer line is permitted outside of city limits, the city would see a rise in revenue from rates and connection fees.

The second hearing, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29 at city hall, will center on development impact fees.

City staff are in the process of evaluating development impact fee levels, which are based on capital facilities plans. The council will consider adopting a new emergency management impact fee that will be paid to Whatcom County Fire and Protection District 21. An ordinance will be presented at the meeting.

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