A Vision for Fairhaven

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Thu, Feb 16, 2012, 4:38 pm  //  John Servais

The writer, standing in the center of the Historic Fairhaven District. Great photo by Mark Turner of Turner Photographics. See link below article to his website. Click photo for larger view.

This evening we on Bellingham's south side will finally have our chance to tell the Planning Department what we would like in the new Fairhaven Neighborhood Plan. I say 'finally' in reference to the five - 5 - years of maneuvering by the Planning Department to avoid any real participation by the public. Nothing like a new mayor to change things around. Tonight should be only the first of at least two or even three open meetings at the City Hall Council Chambers, at 6:30 p.m.

So I will speak and give my ideas and hopes - as will all others who wish to. For the very first time in the five years, this meeting with the public will be recorded and entered into the record. Then our professional planning staff will spend at least a couple weeks considering the ideas presented and make what changes they think best to the plan. Then, hopefully, they will bring this back to a second open meeting in March. What a concept! - just as the Growth Management Act and our city processes suggest for planning.

I've been enjoying Fairhaven since 1968, when I was attending Western on the GI Bill. So I knew the area in its funky times, I worked on the Northwest Passage alternative newspaper in the 1970s, watched as the district changed under Ken Imus', and shopped Village Books when they opened in 1980 across the street from the Picture Show movie theater. In 1995, I started my Fairhaven.com website, and in 2002 local business owners started supporting it and I have been promoting the historic commercial district since. So, there is my 'disclosure', my 'baggage'.

I've also known the folks in the small residential enclave since 1969 and have supported the wonderful rural character of their neighborhood. Indeed, for a short while in the 70s, I lived there.

I think any planning should preserve the unique character of this small 10 city block residential neighborhood. And development around it - by the Port, commercial property owners, or by the City - should mitigate intrusions of noise, light and traffic - and even visual intrusions if they be glaring. The residents are almost cutoff from anyone even being able to drive though their neighborhood on the way to anywhere else. There is not a single sidewalk, or curb, marked crosswalk, or white stripe on any road. There are maybe only half the normal number of street lights. Street drainage is mostly surface. It is a rural enclave with character homes and a relaxed feel to it. While this is a very small area compared to all other neighborhoods in Bellingham, the residents are vocal and very active in their desire to keep their small area this way.

But I also think planning should enable the commercial district to grow into what the founders envisioned and what is so natural for it to do. And it can be done without impacting and hurting the small residential area. You see - there is a deep wooded gorge between the residential and the commercial. Even now, you cannot see the tops of any commercial buildings from the residential area - except a bit when all the leaves are down. The trees hide the buildings. Buildings 60 to 75 feet or so can be built facing Harris Avenue and not even be seen from the residential area. Building heights should be lower near the the green gorge of Padden creek and the natural separator of residential from commercial.

I think the plan should look to enhance this natural green separator. Evergreen climax trees such as firs, hemlocks, and cedars should be planted in the green creek divider. 6th Street should be vacated to eliminate what could become a 'back door' for employees going to work in the future. The block of Larrabee Avenue from 6th to 4th should be turned into permanent greenway. Perhaps build a pedestrian bridge at about 8th Street connecting residential to commercial. The commercial district should commit to working with the residential area to enhance this natural greenway over the next 30 years. I am sure they will.

The commercial district should be allowed to develop into the regional business and visitor district that it naturally tends toward. We have the pieces or resources to be as unique and fun a place as Taos, Durango, Monterey, Moab, Annapolis or any number of other unique American places. The dozen historic buildings are the core resource. Being on a gentle hill expands the views; the transportation center, the cruise boats to the San Juan Islands, charter boats, the many restaurants, the access to outdoor sports such as hiking and bicycling Chuckanut Mountain - all contribute to Fairhaven being a draw for visitors from several states. Even now, Canadian shoppers who discover Fairhaven love it and compare it to Gas Town. The Fairhaven plan should allow the district to become the outstanding Tier 1 Urban Village that others pretend it is now - all while protecting the life style and ambience of the residential neighborhood across the green gorge.

There is no reason for conflict between a quiet residential neighborhood and a thriving commercial district. They can exist together. 

Related Links:

-> Turner Photographics in Fairhaven
-> The Fairhaven commercial district website

City Council Approves Resident’s Sunnyland Plan

Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 7:22 pm  //  John Servais

Sunnlyland residents win one - after a seven year effort. Planning Department failed them and all of us.

0 comments

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Village Books

In historic Fairhaven. Take Exit 250 from I-5.

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Judith Green explains how the Bellingham Planning Department is trying to cram their plan onto a neighborhood.

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0 comments

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The city council "persuades" the city administration to withdraw a request for an intrusive police threat warning system

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It is time we stop allowing corporations to externalize the costs associated with their risky business practices, and demand more from our regulators who hold the keys to…

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Sins of Omission

Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 9:01 pm  //  Guest writer

In the Weekly, Tim Johnson left out three words in quoting Craig Cole - and his story misleads readers. Guest article by Sandy Robson.

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Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 10:18 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein the failings of a bad policy framework are revealed

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Fireworks Ban in Bellingham in Effect as of 18 June

Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 7:53 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The possession and use of consumer fireworks are no longer permitted within the city limits.

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Herald and Weekly Withhold the News

Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 11:39 am  //  John Servais

Wyoming Senators and coal honchos were in Whatcom County June 10 - to hold a news conference with select reporters.

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Dawn Sturwold Retiring End of Month

Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 11:20 am  //  John Servais

Bellingham Hearing Examiner, Dawn Sturwold, retires in three weeks. Successor selection is hidden from all of us.

3 comments; last on Jun 11, 2014

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Fri, Jun 06, 2014, 2:07 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

Part 2: Following Ken Oplinger to California, and Home Again

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Sun, Jun 01, 2014, 12:39 am  //  Guest writer

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Wed, May 28, 2014, 3:15 pm  //  Guest writer

A perspective by guest writer Ellen Murphy reflects on the Whatcom Watch and the threatened law suit by Craig Cole.

22 comments; last on Jun 01, 2014

Extracting Profit and Destroying Experience: The Waterfront Plan

Tue, May 27, 2014, 1:23 am  //  Wendy Harris

Why was so little consideration given to the concept of developing the waterfront for eco-tourism?

5 comments; last on Jun 11, 2014

How Park Improvements Generate Heat

Mon, May 26, 2014, 7:51 pm  //  Wendy Harris

City park improvements have implications on the local and global scale.

2 comments; last on May 29, 2014

Montana & Wyoming to WA: Permit Coal Export Terminals… Or Else

Thu, May 22, 2014, 12:10 am  //  Guest writer

Wyoming is ready to try and legally force us to limit our environmental scoping for the Cherry Point coal terminal

4 comments; last on Jun 17, 2014

The Trojan Slaughterhouse and the Scrivener’s Errors

Sun, May 18, 2014, 11:57 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Reckless rezones and far-fetched explanations result in more slaughterhouses and meat packing plants

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Who Filed for Charter Review Commission?

Sat, May 17, 2014, 2:34 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley takes a closer look at the Charter Review Commission candidates

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Bellingham’s 2013 Water Quality Report: The Facts But Not the Truth

Tue, May 13, 2014, 5:04 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Bellingham's annual water quality report indicates that city hall's propoganda machine is going strong

1 comments; last on May 14, 2014

Stay the Frack Out of Our Forearc

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Part 1: Introduction to the Bellingham Basin’s Potential for Fracking, Earthquakes, and Earthquakes Due to Fracking

3 comments; last on May 14, 2014

Riley scoops Herald - again

Fri, May 09, 2014, 10:02 am  //  John Servais

The Political Junkie for Whatcom County - that would be Riley Sweeney - has Overstreet not running for reelection in the 42nd.

1 comments; last on May 13, 2014

An Imminent Threat

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The Whatcom Republicans’ Huge PCO Advantage

Tue, May 06, 2014, 5:52 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

The value of a Precinct Committee Officer . . .

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‘Legislative Sausage” or “Slaughter this Ordinance”

Mon, May 05, 2014, 3:34 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein the gyrations of the bid for widespread county slaughter are exposed.

2 comments; last on May 07, 2014

Move To Amend - Persons vs Corporations

Thu, May 01, 2014, 10:21 pm  //  Guest writer

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SweenyPolitics:  Fleetwood files against Ericksen

Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 8:20 am  //  John Servais

Riley posted this morning that Seth Fleetwood has decided to challenge Doug Ericksen for state senate in the 42nd District.

1 comments; last on Apr 30, 2014

Planning or Development Commission?

Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 6:28 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Every Bellingham Planning Commission member has ties to development or development-related businesses.

4 comments; last on Apr 30, 2014

“Friends and Neighbors”?

Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 1:59 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

A closer look at Whatcom County's industrial "stewards of the environment."

3 comments; last on Jun 25, 2014

Action Alert for Tonight: Waterfront Wildlife and Habitat Threatened

Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 11:43 am  //  Wendy Harris

The public needs to support city council and request that a waterfront habitat assessment include terrestrial species and habitat connectivity.

0 comments

Water, Water Everywhere, but ...

Sat, Apr 19, 2014, 2:57 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

or How Not to Plan for Future Generations' Water Needs

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Charter Review and District Only Voting

Thu, Apr 17, 2014, 10:40 am  //  Riley Sweeney

A simple explanation of the Charter Review and analysis of District only voting

0 comments

Roosevelt Neighborhood Pleads for Left Turns

Wed, Apr 09, 2014, 9:07 am  //  Riley Sweeney

City pushes for Alabama Street improvements, residents speak out

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Assault

Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 4:29 pm  //  Guest writer

By Christopher Grannis: Wherein despite every effort and expense, citizens cannot make the City follow the law or work for neighborhoods

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Killer Industrial Jobs or Long-term Job Killers?

Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 12:52 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

Why commenting on the EIS for Comp Plan revisions for Cherry Point means demanding an EIS in the first place.

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Anatomy of a Development Part XII - Citizens Win Against University Ridge

Wed, Apr 02, 2014, 6:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Ambling University Development Group pulls out. University Ridge will not be built.

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Tell County To Expand Scope of EIS Review for Plants and Animals

Tue, Apr 01, 2014, 1:27 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Please help us protect county wildlife by ensuring that the scope of the EIS review is adequate. A sample scoping letter is included.

0 comments

Public May Comment On EIS Scoping For County Comp. Plan Until April 7th

Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 2:23 am  //  Wendy Harris

The public has a week to comment on the scope of issues reviewed under the EIS.

0 comments

My State of the Lake Report for 2014

Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 1:32 am  //  Wendy Harris

On March 26, 2014 the city and county provided their update and assessment on the status of Lake Whatcom. This is mine.

2 comments; last on Apr 01, 2014

County Considers Purchasing Toxic Property

Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 10:32 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley digs into the county's plan to buy the county morgue

3 comments; last on Mar 24, 2014

Propaganda Replaces Public Information:  An Analysis of the Lake Whatcom TDML Process

Mon, Mar 17, 2014, 12:52 am  //  Wendy Harris

The public is not provided with a proposed plan or adequate information prior to the annual "state of the lake" meeting

4 comments; last on Mar 18, 2014

Mobile Slaughter

Sat, Mar 15, 2014, 1:11 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein there's a crackdown on growing plants, and plans to let slaughter run free

2 comments; last on Mar 16, 2014

Fukushima Radiation Found In Canada

Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 10:47 am  //  John Servais

Fukushima radiation has been found 20 miles from Whatcom County farmland along the Fraser River in British Columbia.

1 comments; last on Mar 17, 2014

Is ALEC Jr. Coming to Whatcom County or Bellingham Soon?

Wed, Mar 12, 2014, 8:28 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The infamous American Legislative Exchange Council plans to send its spawn to cities and counties throughout the U.S.

1 comments; last on Mar 24, 2014

Rep. Vincent Buys Appears to Break State Fundraising Laws

Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 11:24 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley catches State Rep. Vincent Buys for soliciting funds during session

0 comments

County Hires GPT Permit Lead as Senior Planner

Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 10:51 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley digs into an unusual hiring decision at the County Planning Dept

1 comments; last on Mar 10, 2014

Whatcom Watch Editor Resigns

Sun, Mar 02, 2014, 3:22 pm  //  John Servais

The editor of the Whatcom Watch, Richard Jehn, has resigned effective today. Chalk up a victory for Craig Cole and Pacific International Terminals.

8 comments; last on Mar 05, 2014

Relevant Documents to Libel Threat

Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 9:29 pm  //  John Servais

The full text of Craig Cole's threatening letter of libel against the Whatcom Watch. And the emptiness of the threat.

16 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014

Action Alert for Tonight: Waterfront Wildlife and Habitat Not Being Protected as Promised

Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 4:33 pm  //  Wendy Harris

We were led to believe the city would review waterfront wildlife and habitat connectivity. It turns out that the city intends to focus only on nearshore fish.

0 comments

Wendy Harris on Citizen Journalism

Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 1:16 am  //  Wendy Harris

Accepting the Paul deArmond award of citizen journalism on Feb 7, Wendh Harris gave this speech. We think it deserves its own post.

0 comments

Craig Cole Threatens Libel Suit

Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 5:48 pm  //  John Servais

Craig Cole, the local contact for the proposed Cherry Point coal port has threatened the Whatcom Watch with a libel lawsuit.

6 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014

Do Changing Liquor and Marijuana Laws Affect DUIs

Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 8:26 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley digs through court data and discovers the real impact of privatization and legalization

0 comments

Bellingham Seeks “Flexibility” To Sell Wholesale Rural Sewer Services

Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 10:35 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The mayor wants to amend a city law to increase flexibility for a GMA provision that should be used rarely, if ever at all.

3 comments; last on Feb 11, 2014

The Hidden Costs of Costco

Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 3:36 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Costco imposes indirect costs on our community that are as real and tangible as road construction expenses.

1 comments; last on Feb 13, 2014

Reid Boiler Works Burns Down

Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 10:13 am  //  John Servais

The old empty Reid Boiler Works industrial building in Fairhaven burned to the ground Saturday night.

0 comments

Panem et Circenses - Why I Did Not Watch “The Super Bowl”

Mon, Feb 03, 2014, 6:30 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Professional and even college sports have morphed into a circus of corporate greed and the fleecing of the public.

3 comments; last on Mar 01, 2014

 

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