News in Brief
Bay plan on county agenda tonight
The Whatcom County Planning Commission meets tonight in a work session and will consider the adoption of the Whatcom County comprehensive plan, including the Birch Bay subarea plan. For more than two years, the Birch Bay Steering Committee worked as a group to create the plan, involving more than 2,000 members of the Birch Bay community and representatives from 12 neighborhoods. The commission meets at 6:30 p.m. in county council chambers at 311 Grand Avenue in Bellingham.
annexation: Public meetings, election set
The fire annexation election has been set for February 3, 2004 � the same date as the Blaine school operations and maintenance levy � according to Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic. Last week, Tomsic and Blaine mayor Dieter Schugt met with local fire officials and established two dates for informational public meetings: Thursday, January 7 at the district 13 fire station on Birch Bay-Lynden Road and Thursday, January 14 at the new Blaine fire station on Odell Road. Officials are in the process of setting up additional meeting dates, Tomsic said.
Tree sponsors, donations still needed
Stafholt Good Samaritan Center is seeking sponsors for their annual Giving Tree program, designed to assist families with gifts during the holidays. Stafholt has received applications from over 100 families, approximately 350 children, and sponsors for about half of these children are needed. All monetary donations given to Stafholt are used to purchase gifts for children without sponsors. Each child receives two clothing items and one toy. If anyone would like to sponsor a child, please contact Stafholt Good Samaritan Center at 332-8733.
hearing set for proposed spa retreat
A date has been set for a public hearing concerning the proposed spa-retreat to be built on Birch Point Road. Ellen Shea, creator of the Chrysalis Inn in Fairhaven, has proposed a 10-acre commercial spa retreat project which will require the rezone of acreage from urban residential to resort commercial. The retreat would allow for numerous overnight guests and would offer full retreat facilities, as well as day spa activities. Sylvia Goodwin of the Whatcom County planning commission requested a public hearing be held and is now tentatively scheduled for Thursday, January 8. In response to the project, some local residents have formed Neighbors for Birch Point, a group fighting the project via petition.
to meet next week, discuss Marine Drive
The Citizens Wastewater Advisory Committee (CWAC) are scheduled to meet Tuesday, December 16 to discuss the alternative of establishing a new wastewater plant somewhere in the vicinity of Marine Drive. City officials and committee members questioned the possibility of constructing a plant on Marine Drive property owned by the Port of Bellingham, and although city and port officials later met, a final land decision would have to be made by the port commission. Initial plans centrally located a new facility on land owned by the city within Marine Park. The meeting will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Blaine city hall. For more information about the committee and its work, log onto www.cityofblaine.com or visit public works at 1200 Yew Avenue in Blaine between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
city location approved for HFH home
Following last month�s dedication of the first Habitat for Humanity (HFH) home built in Blaine, city staff have chosen property that will be available to HFH for a second home. Community development director Terry Galvin said the city has designated the property on E Street, between 6th and 8th streets, as a potential site and one that is consistent with adjacent development. The property will be made available on a discount basis and will cost $12,000, Galvin said, and construction plans are consistent with the adjacent development.
The first HFH home built in Blaine was recently built at 940 Cedar Street, where the family of Mark and Debbie Heinzer now reside with their three children. Anyone wanting more information, can call the 715-9170 or visit online at www.hfhwhatcom.org.
passes another measure to move rail VACIS
Blaine city council unanimously passed another measure � this one in the form of a second letter to Senator Patty Murray � to move the current site of the rail Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS). The system was recently implemented just south of the junction of Peace Portal Drive and Bell Road, and x-rays 100 percent of all rail cargo as a means of national security � a process that is causing train and traffic delays. �Based on the information that was presented in the November 20 and December 3 meetings, the Blaine city council feels more strongly than ever that the VACIS inspection equipment was not located properly,� the letter states.
In addition to the delays, city staff said federal officials informed them that radiation detection equipment was implemented at the rail VACIS site last week. In order for the new equipment to work, the train must travel at five miles per hour � a rate of speed that will cause even more delays, city officials said. �The council believes that the addition of a radiation inspection system only exacerbates the problems with blocked intersections and the threat for the safety of the community.� City staff also want information from the federal government about how it would handle a nuclear incident found via the rail VACIS.