At its Thursday, July 28, meeting, the Whatcom County Planning Commission will consider whether to recommend a request to rezone about 472 acres south of Drayton Harbor to the county council. County council member Sam Crawford put in the request to change the land's current zoning, which allows one dwelling unit per 10 acres (R10), to zoning that would allow one unit per five acres (R5). The land was originally zoned for four units per acre (UR4) but was downzoned in November 2009 when it was removed from Blaine's urban growth area (UGA).
The 472 acres comprise 87 parcels, and the area is bounded by Drayton Harbor to the north, Harborview Road to the east and Lincoln Road to the south. Its western boundary lies just west of Shintaffer Road. According to a county planning and development services (PDS) staff report
, the rezone could result in 38 more parcels of land in the area (16 current parcels could be subdivided into 55 smaller parcels). Crawford wrote in his application
for the rezone that a number of landowners in the area have requested the zoning change.
PDS staff don't seem to see anything wrong with this zoning change and have advised the seven-member planning commission to recommend the change to the county council. Thanks to recent countywide changes to the rural element of the county's comprehensive plan, polices against "upzoning" R10 land to R5 no longer exist. Also, planning staff think the current rural character of the area (i.e., hardly developed at all) will be protected by existing development standards, which include special regulations because of the land's proximity to Drayton Harbor.
Planning staff initially used the rules against upzoning as reason to advise against a rezone of 789 acres in east Birch Bay in December. This area was initially part of the Birch Bay UGA. Crawford submitted this rezoning application too, and the county council eventually approved the change with a 4-3 vote (council members Barbara Brenner, Ken Mann and Carl Weimer were opposed).
Brenner's reason for the vote against the zoning change for the 789-acre swath of land was that the countywide rural element changes had not been finalized yet. With those changes now in the books, it'll be interesting to see how Brenner would vote on this zoning change if it ever makes it to the county council agenda.
Click here for my article on the zone change to the 789 acre portion of land. The planning commission meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, at the Northwest Annex at 5280 Northwest Drive in Bellingham.