April 10, 2011, Issue
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
• UPCOMING MEETINGS
• BELLINGHAM COMP PLAN – new Environment Chapter
• PADDEN TRAILS
• WHATCOM FUTURES PROJECT – Northwest Economic Council
• HOUSE BILL 2152: Clarifying timelines associated with plats
• SENATE BILL 6406 – stormwater
• CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM CODE UPDATE
WHATCOM COUNTY COUNCIL
Tuesday, April 10, regular session at 7 p.m.
Public Works, Health & Safety Committee – 1:30 p.m.
1. Discussion of the Permanent Intensive Supportive Housing Project for chronically homeless individuals (AB2012-149)
Committee of the Whole – 3:00 p.m.
1. Discussion regarding a proposed ordinance amending Whatcom County Code Title 20, creating Chapter 20.51, Lake Whatcom Watershed Overlay District, to address stormwater and land use regulations in the Lake Whatcom Watershed (AB2012-117)
Next regular County Council meetings are April 24 and May 8.
WC PLANNING COMMISSION
Thursday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. in County Council Chambers
• Work session on the Rural Element Update – amendments to Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan Chapters One (Introduction) and Two (Land Use); amendments to Whatcom County Code Title 20 (Zoning); amendments to the official zoning map. To see materials, click here.
• Adoption of Findings of Fact regarding: File #PLN2011-00015-Lake Whatcom Watershed Overlay District
BELLINGHAM PLANNING COMMISSION
Thursday, April 12 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers
• Public hearing on a proposed Environment Element for the Bellingham Comp Plan. The City Council committed in January 2011 to adopting this new chapter, "the Environmental Element,” by July 2, 2012. Staff contact is Kim Weil. To see the staff report and draft proposal, click here.
BELLINGHAM CITY COUNCIL
Monday, April 16, 7 p.m.
Daytime committees will include a second Padden Trails work session.
WHATCOM COUNTY SURFACE WATER WORK SESSION
Tuesday, April 17, 10:30 a.m.
Civic Center Building, Garden Room
NEXT GAC MEETING – 11:30 a.m. Thursday, April 12
(back to top)
BELLINGHAM COMP PLAN
Bellingham is considering a proposed "Environment Element” to the Comp Plan – set for a public hearing April 12 before the Bellingham Planning Commission. According to the city planning department, next year work begins on an "Economic Element,” and BIAWC will be invited to contribute at an early stage.
(back to top)
At a City Council work session on March 26, the Bellingham City Council expressed its lack of support for Padden Trails rezoning and Comp Plan amendments to increase density from 2 units per acre to 4 units per acre, and go to low-density multi-family zoning to allow use of the city’s "infill toolkit.” The Planning Commission and planning staff found that Padden Trails is consistent with Bellingham’s Comp Plan and meets city goals; the City Council disagreed. The Council took no formal action but invited the applicant to submit a new plan for development that would not require a rezone – although planning staff noted that at current density, the project is not feasible. Public comment remains open on Padden Trails until the next work session, April 16. To see council materials, click here.
BIAWC does not support specific projects, but has testified at a hearing on this project to the lack of residential construction in Bellingham and in favor of using infill toolkit methods, as this project does, to meet housing needs. BIAWC also submitted an editorial page piece to The Bellingham Herald on the choices we face between infill or sprawl; this appeared in the Herald on April 1 and is posted on our website. To see it, click here.
April 5, County Councilman Ken Mann posted a blog making similar arguments about infill vs. sprawl. To read it, click here.
(back to top)
WHATCOM FUTURES PROJECT – Northwest Economic Council
Futurewise hosted a luncheon on Friday, April 6, attended by BIAWC’s Brian Evans and Linda Twitchell, several local business leaders and office holders. This turned out to be largely a 5-year celebration of Futurewise, which plans to champion saving "ag land” in the coming year. Part of the program also was a brief presentation by Peggy Zoro, director of the Northwest Economic Council, on plans for the "Whatcom Futures Project.”
Zoro reports that the Whatcom Community Foundation asked the NW Economic Council to take on the Whatcom Futures Project, which will use stakeholder interviews to gather data and ideas on how to create a sustainable local economy, addressing a broad range of community needs. The project will produce a vision for the future of Whatcom County that accommodates growth, economic development, environmental sustainability and equitable access to opportunities — for the next 20 years and beyond.
The Futures Project is a restart of the Whatcom Legacy Project begun in 2007, involving Lisa McShane. According to Zoro this project will be different, starting over with different people running it and participating, using a different approach, and different consultants. Community Attributes International will be doing the interviews and driving the work, working with the Northwest Economic Council.
Some of the questions to be addressed:
• How do we create an economic environment supportive for businesses and improve incomes and access to jobs?
• How do we accommodate the growth we know to be destined for Whatcom County?
• What economic assets do we wish to leverage for economic growth?
• What community assets do we wish to preserve as growth occurs?
• What environmental assets do we wish to preserve or restore as growth occurs?
Zoro, former Senior Vice President and Regional Manager with Wells Fargo, started this month as the director of NW Economic Council. She replaces interim executive director Kim Loveall Price. The NWEC's role is to help businesses and industries remove larger barriers that are keeping them from opening or expanding in Whatcom County, looking at over-arching issues such as infrastructure needs or regulations that hurt different industries. The economic council shares office space at 115 Unity St. with the Small Business Development Center. For details on the NWEC, call 676-4255 or visit nwecon.org.
(back to top)
HOUSE BILL 2152: Clarifying timelines associated with plats
Signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire on March 29, establishing five, seven, and nine-year time limits for qualifying final plat submissions, land-use requirements governing lots in final plats, and land-use requirements governing subdivisions. Establishes date requirements governing the time limits, and conditions all nine-year time limits upon the project being within city limits and not subject to the Shoreline Management Act. Repeals two-year time extensions for final plats and subdivisions that temporarily extended associated time limits from five to seven years.
(back to top)
SENATE BILL 6406 – stormwater
BIAW continues to work on Senate Bill 6406. This bill has had many revisions, but in its most current form BIAW is most concerned about how section three could impact the building industry. Section three contains very modest SEPA reform and a stormwater piece. Throughout the legislative process BIAW pushed for stormwater relief and, until now, the Governor threatened to veto. An outright delay in new stormwater permits or incentivizing voluntary low impact development (LID) has been answered with a very clear "NO.” BIAW has worked with other stakeholders, including jurisdictions also concerned about Ecology’s new permit, to offer a phased proposal. This approach would ensure technical training is available for LID for both the private and public sectors, would sync the timelines to make sure LID requirements match the development cycle by harmonizing comprehensive plan updates in 2016, allow the one-acre exemption to continue through 2016, and give Eastern Washington a one-year delay. 6406 would provide some relief and more preparation time for both jurisdictions and builders, particularly with a one-acre threshold and the LID mandate through 2016. BIAW will continue working to bring relief to the homebuilding industry.
(back to top)
CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM CODE UPDATE
The requirement for mandatory Carbon Monoxide alarms for all new construction have been in place since January 1, 2011, as adopted by the State Building Code Council (SBCC) as part of the 2009 code cycle. The adoption of rules by the SBCC affecting carbon monoxide alarms in existing residential buildings was initially deferred, but the rules are now in place and are as follows:
• As of April 1, 2012, when a permit is issued for an alteration, repair, addition or creation of additional sleeping rooms, the installation of a carbon monoxide alarm is required.
• Code requires the seller of any owner-occupied single-family residence sold on or after June 26, 2009, to equip the residence with carbon monoxide alarms. A new law will go into effect on June 7, 2012, and will require amendments to the seller’s disclosure forms in purchase and sale agreements to ensure that the responsibility for placement of carbon monoxide alarms is that of the seller.
• As of January 1, 2013, ALL buildings classified as residential occupancies (including rentals homes, duplexes, apartments, etc.) must be equipped with carbon monoxide alarms, with the exception of owner-occupied single-family residences occupied before July 26, 2009.
(back to top)