Semiahmoo plans for new 1,246-unit development

Published on Wed, Dec 16, 2009 by Jack Kintner

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The permitting process for Semiahmoo West, a large-scale planned unit development (PUD) on 624 acres southwest of the Blaine city limits, is underway. The site, which stretches northwest from Birch Bay Village to Semiahmoo Drive, is in unincorporated Whatcom County.

The application was filed by the Semiahmoo Company. Semiahmoo West is projected to have 1,246 residential units, all but 97 of which would be single family houses, divided into seven neighborhoods, one of which would also include 60,000 square feet of commercial space and multifamily housing. The net density, which is the site area less open space and rights of way, is 3.6 houses per acre. Fifteen of the 232 acres of open space would be devoted to parks.

The first phase of the development would be located in what’s called Zone 8 in the application, located at the 8200 block of Birch Point Drive, roughly across the street from the northwest corner of Birch Bay Village. The entire development stretches across the once-forested uplands to Semiahmoo Drive.

At the time of application the entire parcel was within the Blaine urban growth area (UGA). However, the area that includes Semiahmoo West was eliminated from the Blaine UGA by the county in accord with the state’s growth management act (GMA) on November 24 in an ordinance signed by county executive Pete Kremen on December 9. Applications for Semiahmoo West were filed with Whatcom County Planning and Development Services on October 30 and November 3.

What effect this may have on the permitting process is yet to be determined. Developments outside a city but inside a city’s UGA are eligible for city services such as sewer and water.

The application and supporting documents may be reviewed at Whatcom County Planning and Development Services, located at the corner of Smith Road and Northwest Drive at 5280 Northwest Drive, and online at www.whatcomcounty.us/pds/plan/current/index. A 15-day public comment period began December 8 and runs through Wednesday, December 23.

Written comments may be submitted to Tyler Schroeder, at tschroed@co.whatcom.wa.us.