City to appeal county decision
“I have authorization from the city manager to proceed,” said Blaine city attorney John Sitkin following an executive session prior to council’s November 8 meeting. Sitkin will now go take the city’s opposition to a rezone triggered by the recent Birch Bay Community Plan to the state Growth Management hearings board and try to have it invalidated.
The decision comes two weeks after county planning division manager Sylvia Goodwin appealed to council to not challenge the plan. “Read this plan and start working with the citizens of Birch Bay,” she said at an October 25 work session. “There’s a lot of opportunity to work together and I think that would be a better use of planning and legal staff time.”
The city is specifically opposed to a rezone on the corner of Lincoln and Shintaffer roads, where a parcel owned by Trillium Corporation was rezoned general commercial, while a resort commercial parcel further up the hill was rezoned as residential. “What this is, is a pretext to extend urban facilities into a long term growth area,” Sitkin said. “There is no broad purpose. It’s really driven by a developer wanting to put a development there.” Sitkin said the rezone would negatively impact Blaine, being more in a position to intercept Blaine shoppers who would otherwise shop downtown than in a position to serve Birch Bay residents. “It would make more sense closer to Birch Bay Village,” Sitkin said.
Goodwin said the rezone was part of a larger plan to spread out commercial activity in nodes throughout Birch Bay so residents could walk to services and development pressure was relieved along Birch Bay Drive. “Legally Birch Bay is an urban growth area and commercial development is appropriate,” she said. “A spot zone is generally something not consistent with the goals of the plan and this is consistent. I don’t think many courts would believe this is an illegal spot zone.”
If the city wins their appeal the county could be found out of compliance on the whole plan, which could invalidate the plan, zoning ordinance or both and the state could remand them back to the county to bring them into compliance. Sitkin insisted the city was only after the specific zoning issue. “We wouldn’t ask them to throw out the whole plan,” he said.