Government for the people: Bellingham, Whatcom and Port of Bellingham news this week

Empty streets yet encouraging messages characterize the time of COVID; local governing bodies continue to meet, albeit virtually, as well. (Amy Nelson photo © 2020)

By Mike Sato

City of Bellingham: transportation plan hearing, emergency moratorium extension for 10 manufactured-home parks

The Bellingham City Council will convene at 7 p.m. on May 18 for a public hearing on its draft 2012-2026 Transportation Improvement Program. The plan is adopted annually by July 1 in order to plan and finance capital improvements to the city’s transportation network. The six-year program includes 19 multimodal projects estimated to cost $120,603,000.

In June 2019, the council approved an emergency one-year moratorium ordinance that halted any redevelopment or changing the use of any of the 10 manufactured home parks in the city. At its 1 p.m. session on May 18, the council as a whole will hear staff recommendations to extend the moratorium for six months to allow time for completion of research, outreach and legislative review. The moratorium preserves the status quo and ensures availability of housing while options are developed to preserve affordable housing.

Complete agenda packet and instructions for public comment for the May 18 meeting can be downloaded here

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for June 8.

Silfab Solar project to go before Port of Bellingham commissioners for financing approval

Port of Bellingham commissioners will vote at their 4 p.m. meeting on May 19 on a pass-through agreement with Silfab Solar related to a $4,000,196 project proposal. The Port would pass through a $250,000 Washington state Strategic Reserve Grant, with Silfab Solar to invest $3,750,196 before June 30, 2021, to expand their facilities in Whatcom County and create between 20 and 40 new full-time jobs in five years.

The May 19 meeting will also include a port-wide review update. The agenda and instructions for public comment can be downloaded here

The next commission meeting is scheduled for June 9.

Port hears update on Harcourt Developments work on the waterfront 

At the Port of Bellingham commission meeting of May 5, Director of Environmental and Planning Brian Gouran said, in response to a query from Commissioner Michael Shepard, that  he is in contact with Harcourt Developments multiple times a day, and they are working diligently on the permitting process. According to Bouran, there are some timing issues due to COVID-19, but they are moving forward and are pushing to keep the same timeline.  Harcourt plans on doing a presentation once the travel restrictions are lifted. (Compiled from Port of Bellingham draft minutes) See also: Downtown Bellingham waterfront site sprouts new signs of life (Salish Current).

Port amends contract with Whatcom Waterway cleanup consultant to $1.6 million

At its May 5 meeting, the Port of Bellingham commissioners authorized amending a consultant contract with Anchor QEA for $936,433.98 plus a 10% contingency for a total authorized budget of $1,665,150. The amended contractincludes completing work on stakeholder outreach, analyzing remediation alternatives, pre-design surveys, Year 3 monitoring and reporting.

New work includes consent decree amendment, initial permitting, document navigation and land-use assumptions, pre-remedial design investigations and evaluations, and engineering design report.

Port Director of Environmental and Planning Brian Gouran told the commissioners that Model Toxic Cleanup Account funds should be assured because of a grant contract with Ecology despite Ecology having put on hold some grant funding in the state 2020 supplemental budget until revenue forecasts are completed. (Compiled from Port of Bellingham draft minutes)

Cherry Point interim moratorium ordinance to be introduced at Whatcom County Council

An ordinance will be introduced at the May 19 meeting of the Whatcom County Council to impose an interim moratorium on the acceptance and processing of applications and permits for new or expanded facilities in the Cherry Point urban growth area, the primary purpose of which would be the shipment of unrefined fossil fuels not to be processed at Cherry Point. A public hearing date will need to be scheduled. 

Agenda and public participation guidelines for the May 19 1 p.m. meeting may be downloaded here

The next meeting of the Whatcom County Council is scheduled for June 9.

Mike Sato compiles environmental news items for Salish Sea News and Weather and periodically blogs for Salish Sea Communications. He is the author of The Price of Taming a River: The Decline of Puget Sound’s Duwamish/Green Waterway. He resides in Bellingham and on Lopez Island.