County edges toward rezoning east Birch Bay land for third time

Published on Thu, Sep 22, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Ninety-two acres of land in east Birch Bay could be rezoned if an ordinance the Whatcom County Council is expected to introduce this Tuesday gets approved at the first council meeting in October.

At its September 27 meeting, the council will vote on introducing an ordinance that would rezone 92 acres of land near the intersection of Blaine and Arnie roads from one home per 5 acres (R5) to one home per 10 acres (R10). The acreage is part of a larger swath of land that has been rezoned twice since 2009.

The 98 acres in question comprise three parcels, 90 percent of which are within the 100-year floodplain. County planning staff are recommending the county council reinstate the land's R10 zoning after a 2010 vote that upzoned the land to R5.

Back in 2009, a total of 770 acres, which includes the 98 acre swath, was within the Birch Bay urban growth area (UGA) and zoned for four homes per acre (UR4). However, the county council voted in November 2009 to remove the land from the UGA, which downzoned the land to R10. Citing complaints from landowners in the area, county council member Sam Crawford submitted a draft ordinance that upzoned the 770 acres to R5. The county council approved this ordinance in December 2010.

This ordinance was soon appealed to the Growth Management Hearings Board, which upheld the rezone in July 2011 but said the land in the floodplain must be returned to R10.

The county planning commission has since recommended the 92-acre rezone to the county council. The Growth Management Hearings Board directed the council to vote on the proposed changes in October, so if the ordinance is introduced this Tuesday, the county council will most likely vote to approve or reject it at its October 11 meeting.

For more information on the proposed changes, contact senior county planner Matt Aamot at or 360/676-6907.


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