Newsin Brief

Published on Thu, Sep 30, 2004
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News in Brief

Lights out!
The lights will be going out for half an hour in Semiahmoo on October 5 as city crews modify the electrical distribution system in preparation to bringing a new electric feeder around the south end of Drayton Harbor online. “The purpose is so that when we’re ready to energize that line everything lines up,” said Blaine public works director Steve Banham.

Crews will cut power at 9 a.m. to city power customers in the Semiahmoo uplands and plan to have residential customers back online within a half hour. Phase alignment work for three phase commercial customers will follow, starting with the golf course clubhouse and moving on to city pump stations. As all phase alignment effort will be directed at commercial clients, Banham said most residents and visitors to the area won’t notice anything after the quick morning power outage.

$42 million and speechless
Blaine city council had nothing to discuss as they took final action to adopt the city’s new General Sewer Plan. “We’ve spent a lot of time over the past several months to get to this point,” said public works director Steve Banham at the September 27 council meeting. Council has reviewed the plan in a series of work sessions and in a public hearing September 13. The General Sewer Plan looked at the city’s aging sewer system and recommended $42 million dollars be spent over the next 25 years, with the top $30 million going to build a new wastewater treatment facility and equalization storage facility on Marine Drive, and $12 million to upgrade the collection system once the plant is up and running.

“We’re already marching forward with the general facilities plan for our Lighthouse Point water reclamation facility,” Banham said. In an October 18 work session council will look at treatment alternatives and cost estimates for that facility. When they meet for a November 15 work session they’ll look at alternatives to treating west Blaine effluent and then on December 13 review a draft facility plan. Staff is anticipating the first phase of construction will begin in the spring of 2005.

Council considering a vacation
Blaine city council will hold a public hearing October 25 to consider vacating the alley north of B Street between 10th and 11th streets. Lenny Beckett of North Star Investments initiated the petition to vacate the 12-foot strip of land abutting property owned by North Star, which was signed by all owners of property abutting the strip. Blaine public works director Steve Banham said it was his understanding the property owners were interested in more room to develop their property, which will be encroached upon by the planned truck route expansion, but that more information would be made available by proponents at the upcoming public hearing.
New development criteria chosen

Following a public hearing with no public comment, Blaine city council approved lower thresholds for projects that would qualify for the label of “major development,” making them subject to city council approval following planning commission review.

The criteria approved at the September 27 council meeting would automatically send residential subdivisions or multifamily projects with 25 or more units to city council, along with hotels and motels with 50 or more units and any project requiring an environmental impact statement.

Other criteria regarding office, retail and industrial floor area, construction cost and number of employees, which had been in place as interim standards since council created an administrative approval process for most projects in 2002, were eliminated, with one exception. Council member Bonnie Onyon said she felt strongly that any retail development over 50,000 s.f. needed council go-ahead. “That would be a substantial retail development, especially in our core area,” she said. “That’s a building over an acre in size,” pointed out city manager Gary Tomsic. Council members approved the new rules with Onyon’s proposed amendment.

City community and economic development director Terry Galvin added that the new criteria did not limit what council could choose to review. “In every case when a development proposal is submitted to my department it gets submitted to city council and they get to determine in their own minds if there is a magnitude or a community sensitivity that warrants major development review,” he said, “even if the project is under these thresholds.”