County Council to make two Birch Bay zoning decisions

Published on Mon, Oct 10, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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The zoning density of 98 acres in Birch Bay could be reduced while that of another 470 acres could be increased at the next Whatcom County Council meeting.

After a public hearing at its Tuesday, October 11, meeting, the county council will decided whether to rezone 470 acres of land in central Birch Bay from one house per 10 acres (R10) to one house per five (R5). This vote would have taken place at the council’s last meeting, but the majority of council members agreed a public hearing ought to precede the vote because representatives from the Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District Advisory Committee said they were not notified of the possible zoning change.

The rezone, if approved, could result in 38 more parcels on the 470-acre swath of land. A November 2009 county council vote downzoned the land from four homes per acre to R10, and county council member Sam Crawford submitted the proposed rezone to R5 after multiple complaints from landowners in the area.

Later in the evening, the council will then decide whether to rezone a swath of land near the intersection of Blaine and Arnie roads for the third  time since 2009. The rezone, from R5 to R10, would affect 98 acres over three parcels, 90 percent of which are within a 100-year-flood plain.

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, 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. Th county council will vote on this change tomorrow night.

Click here for a look at the county council’s agenda, which contains documents for these and a number of other items.


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