Newsin Brief

Published on Thu, Oct 28, 2004
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News in Brief

‘Pocket motorcycle’ regs coming
After meeting with scooter users of all ages and citizens concerned about the proliferation of small motor scooters and “pocket motorcycles,” Blaine police chief Mike Haslip said he is ready to bring council a set of regulations for the vehicles sometime next month. “Really everybody at the table felt they should be regulated, both for public peace and public safety,” Haslip said of the October forum to gauge what kind of regulation both users and non-users wanted to see.
Haslip said avid users of the variety of electric and gas motor scooter all agreed it would be key to insist users wear safety equipment. Other limitations would likely be on what hours the devices could be used, and where. “We’ll probably ask for a prohibition in the central business district and on main arterials,” Haslip said. He also said regulations to limit noise and training for users would be part of the package.

Blaine high school student Ben Freeman, sitting with council member Bruce Wolf as part of the annual Youth in Government Day, asked if the scooters would be consigned to the roadway or allowed on the sidewalks. Haslip said there could be exceptions but “because of the speed of the devices they’ll almost always be restricted to the roadway.”

Haslip said he expected a series of public meetings on the regulations next month. “We hope to have something for the public in time for people interested in making Christmas purchases,” he said.
In other public safety news, Haslip said the police departments of Sumas, Lynden and Blaine had finally gotten funding secured as a line item grant in the federal budget and would be moving forward jointly with $300,000 in technological improvements. The grant was obtained with the help of U.S. Representative Rick Larsen and his staff, Haslip said, “in an attempt to assist with the special needs of our border communities.

The grant will pay for three separate projects: upgrading radios to meet the standards used by federal agencies, high speed wireless for public safety, and computers in patrol cars to allow officers to access databases from their vehicles.

Chamber selects officers
The following people were elected as officers of the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce at a board meeting held Monday, October 25 – president, Genée Haws Kay; vice-president, Bob Aitken; secretary, Maria Beebe; treasurer, Paul Schumak. Additional directors are Jim Trull, Holly Wertmen, John Kim and Lisa Young.

Moving On
Blaine’s border custom brokerages are preparing to relocate as the state reconstruction of the truck route gets closer to being realized. “The project is going to move forward. We’re about 80 percent done with property acquisitions and they’re trying to bid in six months,” said Washington State Department of Transportation representative Paul Beck at the October 25 meeting of Blaine city council.

Council approved a rezone and an alley vacation that will allow four of Blaine’s brokerage houses, now located behind the duty free stores that line Pacific Highway, to move to the other side of the highway south of the U.S. port of entry. “The real sticking point is relocating these tenants,” Beck said. “It’s been start and stop and start and stop, but it almost a go now.”

City planning staff reassured council that the rezone came with numerous conditions designed to shield nearby residential areas from possible noise and light pollution, including landscaping, redirecting traffic to the businesses and excavating the site to create a natural berm behind it. “I would not say this is ideal but these businesses are site specific and we have to find a way for them to locate,” said city community economic and development director Terry Galvin. “There was some concern from the neighbors but I think we’ve addressed those.”

Public hearing on development rights
Whatcom County Planning and Development Services will hold a public hearing next week to review six Transferable Development Rights (TDR) areas proposed near Birch Bay. The hearing is set for Thursday, November 4, at 3 p.m. in the Whatcom County Planning Department library at 5280 Northwest Drive, Suite A.

“This would allow for higher density and more urban pedestrian related development near services,” said county planner Sylvia Goodwin, “and there would then be less development in the sending areas.”

The proposal was made by Troy Holbrook of planning and development staff in support of the recently enacted Birch Bay Community Plan which calls for higher density development in certain parcels within the UGA. “This gives developers a source for the additional development rights they’d need to do that,” Goodwin said, “and takes them away from the three primary creeks in the area, Drayton Harbor and Lake Terrell.”

The six areas are:
1) The Terrell Creek corridor from the mouth of Terrell Creek to Terrell Lake.
2) North of Terrell Creek between Kickerville Road and Birch Bay State Park.
3) Parcels between NE Lake Terrell and the intersection of Northstar Road and Aldergrove Road.
4) An 800 foot wide corridor along California Creek from its mouth to Creasy Road.
5) An 800 foot wide corridor along Dakota Creek from its mouth to Custer School Road.
6) The area along Drayton Harbor Road, to Lincoln Road, between California Creek and Shintaffer Road.