Countyleft without recourse in Drayton Harbor Road delay

Published on Thu, Jul 12, 2007 by ete Kremen,County Executive

Read More News

County left without recourse in Drayton Harbor Road delay

By Pete Kremen,
County Executive

To the citizens of Blaine concerning the Drayton Harbor Road repair:
Please know that I share your strong desire to commence the Drayton Harbor Road project.

Some have questioned that the county is not doing everything we can to move the process forward to repair this vital link. I assure you that is simply not the case.

For the last couple of years community groups have been working with Whatcom County Public Works to develop a plan and execute repairs on Drayton Harbor Road.

Now, as you know, a citizen appeal of the hearing examiner’s decision granting the shorelines permit has delayed the project until next summer.

At my request Whatcom County civil prosecuting attorney, Daniel L. Gibson looked carefully to see if the appeal could be expedited.

In a memorandum dated July 3 Gibson concludes, “While the appeal appears to me to lack any significant merit, the appeal process is lengthy and county code does not currently make provision for summary disposition of such matters.

“Thus the delay occasioned by the appeal leaves the county without recourse, except to plan for future legislative changes in the ordinance governing appeals so as to create a mechanism for summary disposition of appeals that lack merit.”

In Gibson’s memo he addressed the issue of notice, “From what I am able to gather, both from the record before the hearing examiner and in the submissions to date of the appellants Helton, it appears that the Hiltons’ chief complaint is their claim that they did not receive proper notice of the open record hearing for the road project which was held on May 23.

“In a letter dated May 22, received by the hearing examiner before the hearing itself, the attorney laid out their complaint about lack of notice and requested a continuance of the hearing. It is thus immediately apparent that the Hiltons, in fact, had actual notice of the hearing in advance of it being held.

“They were also present at the hearing on May 23 to allege that the notice of the hearing was not properly given, and that the project would negatively impact Bald Eagle habitat, an allegation not supported by the regulatory agencies charged with oversight of such matters.”

With the sensitive nature of the work on the beach, construction is limited to the summer months. The 90-day appeal process means we are unable to work on the beach this year.

We live in an extraordinary corner of the world and it is incumbent upon us to balance environmental concerns with our desire to complete this project.

It is probably of little comfort to know that the county is doing all it can, but we are. I have heard your concerns loud and clear.

It may well be that nothing I can say will ease the frustration, but please realize I will do everything within my authority to repair Drayton Harbor Road as soon as possible.

Whatcom County Public Works is staffed with talented caring individuals who serve the people of Whatcom County.

I would also like to express my genuine appreciation for your phone calls and e-mails regarding this matter. It demonstrates that you care about your community.