County asked to ignore UGA request
Blaine city council approved an incisive letter to county council asking them not to consider a comprehensive plan amendment that would chop the Blaine urban growth area (UGA) almost back to the existing city limits.
“We believe the application is overkill,” said the letter written by city manager Gary Tomsic and approved by city council at their January 24 meeting. “At best the Menzies application is an example of using a shotgun when a rifle might do.”
The letter was sent in response to an application by county planning commissioner and Drayton Harbor community oyster farm coordinator Geoff Menzies to modify the county comprehensive plan and reduce the Blaine UGA in order to protect sensitive areas from impacts of urbanization. Menzies contends that under state growth management rules, the UGA is meant to represent the area the city needs for 20 years worth of growth, and that Blaine has that room within the city limits.
Blaine’s incorporated area 3,666 acres and the UGA adds another 3,318 that could be annexed by the city in the future. Menzies proposes to cut 3,116 of those acres.
The city’s letter asks county council to “defer the review of any portion of Blaine’s urban growth boundaries until 2006,” after the current review of Blaine’s comprehensive plan is complete. “Should you decide to address the reduction of our urban growth area through a county review process which is separate from Blaine’s comprehensive planning process, then you will be usurping the role and value of the public’s involvement in the community’s plan,” it states.
Tomsic said the city shared Menzies concern about protecting sensitive areas that could affect harbor health, but did not support the proposed amendment because “neither the timing nor the process is right.”
On January 26, the 20 comprehensive plan amendments were introduced to county council, including that submitted by Menzies, and forwarded to either the natural resources or planning subcommittees. On February 8 council will hear committee recommendations on which items should go forward for full review and set the docket for the year. The full comprehensive plan amendment process would include staff analysis, public hearings and is expected to take most of the year.