Coming to Whatcom County: Slaughterhouses

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Thu, Sep 20, 2012, 10:04 pm  //  Wendy Harris

This Tuesday, September 25, 2012, the County Council will hold a public hearing on a proposal to allow slaughterhouses on agricultural land.  This is a zoning amendment that must be consistent with the County Comprehensive Plan and the Growth Management Act (GMA).  Here is the link for the agenda bill.

The Planning Department drafted a proposal that would allow slaughter facilities on agricultural land as a conditional use if it is supplemental to dairy and livestock operations (i.e., an accessory use), limited to no more than 10 employees, and constructed to maximize the agricultural use of the remaining area.  However, the Planning Commission revised the Staff’s proposal to remove limitations on size and operations of slaughterhouses, allowing slaughterhouses as a primary and permitted use for 10 or fewer employees and a conditional use for over 10 employees.

The Planning Department is advising the County Council that, pursuant to advice from the County Prosecutor’s Office, the revised proposal may not comply with the Growth Management Act.  One of the GMA’s goals is to encourage conservation of productive agricultural land and discourage incompatible uses. Development regulations must prevent conversion of land for a nonresource use where the land is being used for primary agricultural production. RCW 36.70A.020(8); WAC 365-196-815(1)(b). 

The Planning Department does not have specific recommendations for Council.  For guidance on how to restructure the zoning amendment, Planning  suggests that Council look at some of the limitations contained in its orginal slaughterhouse proposal.  I hope that the the Planning Department realizes that even its initial proposal went to far.  I am opposed to the slaughterhouse proposal (both versions) for a number of reasons, although the Planning Commission version is far worse.

Slaughterhouses are an industrial use that reduce the amount of land available for farming.  Industrial uses should be restricted to industrial zoning.  The County is already short of its goal to preserve 100,000 acres of farm land, and this is a movement in the wrong direction.  Slaughterhouses increase impervious surfaces associated with stormwater run-off and water quality degradation.  They fragment agricultural land, contrary to County policy and recent agricultural lot reconsolidation efforts.  Fragmentation of farm land reduces the viability of our agricultural industry.  We can not provide greater protection for our agricultural land if we are allowing land use activities that contradict this alleged goal. 

Most slaughter occurs at large, centralized facilities owned by a few multi-national corporations, which, increasingly, are moving urban operations to rural communities.  Negative impacts to rural communities after relocation of a large slaughterhouse are well-documented.  Large slaughterhouses squeeze local farmers out of business.  The Planning Commission proposal, which removes limitation on slaughterhouse size and operation, would allow large slaughterhouses to relocate to Whatcom County.

 Slaughterhouses are likely to invite conflict with rural residential homeowners, who may first become mobilized right before or after a slaughterhouse is located nearby.  Slaughterhouses frequently mistreat animals in violation of the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, with little or no repercussion.  Local communities have no power to ensure humane treatment of slaughter animals.  The Planning Commission failed to consider the alternative option of mobile slaughter units, which are supported by the USDA as a way to provide greater income to rural farmers.

I have discussed my concerns in greater detail in the September issue of the Whatcom Watch. The link for this article is found here.

If slaughterhouses are to be located on agricultural land, restrictions on the size and operations of the facility provide the best protection for the animals, the land and the people of Whatcom County.  Please tell the County Council that you do not support the Planning Commission proposal.  Better yet, tell them that you do not want slaughterhouses at all.

Craig Mayberry  //  Fri, Sep 21, 2012, 12:01 pm

A couple of comments as a local farmer that is very concerned about this issue.  For us small farmers we currently have a couple of options for processing our animals.  You have Lynden Meat that will do custom slaughters, but is not USDA and therefore limits the markets for local farmers.  You have another custom processor in Shohomish County, but that does not work for Whatcom County and very few farmers use their facility.  You have 2 USDA processors. One is the Island Grown Farmer Cooperative in Bow, but that has limited capacity and very few farmers in Whatcom County use the facility because it is at capacity.  The other option is Keizer Meats who many of the farmers use.  Keizer Meats has been trying to sell their busines and that process has been on and off over the last 2 years.  They are nearing retirement and the future is a little cloudy what will happen there.  They are also limited and cannot grow and therefore have a hard time meeting the demands of local farmers during the fall when most of the cows are processed.  There are currently attempts to start another USDA slaughter facility in the county and hopefully something ulimtately happens there. 

A couple of observations.  First, there are not enough cows in the area that no industrial slaughterhouse will ever be located in Whatcom County, it is irrelevant what the planning codes allow.  This is the last place on earth that a large, industrial slaughterhouse would ever be built simple because they could not draw on a large enough area to make it worthwhile (you cannot bring in cows from Canada, we have the ocean to the west and mountains to the east so the area from which you could draw is very small), so your concerns are unrealistic.  Slaughterhouses are a marginal and low margin business to begin with, we do need some additional capacity in the county either through the expansion of Keizer or another slaughterhouse, but at that point that will meet all of the demand in the county for the next 20+ years.  It is not like you have all sorts of people lined up to start a slaughter facility because it is such great money, it is not. 

If various people in the county make it impossible to either grow Keizer or start a new facility then there will be significant limits that will be place on local farmers to provide local food.  On one hand you have various groups, like Sustainable Connections, that are trying to increase the demand for local food.  If you have other groups in the community trying to limit processing then you end up sending mixed messages and make things even more difficult for farmers.  Let me be as clear as I can on this issue, right now the biggest obstacle to make local meat more available is local processing capacity.  If these types of efforts end up derailing attempts to start a small, local facilty then it will end up having a very negative impact on farmers and local consumers.  I do not believe that is the intention here, but all of your talk about industrial slaughthouse confuses the issue and there will be remedial impacts on the local attempts to build a new facility.  Again, for the third time, there will never be an industrial slaughterhouse in Whatcom county because it does not make economic sense now, nor will it ever.  We have lots of important planning issues that need to be addressed and this is not one of them.  The fact that there is a conditial use permit for facilities over 10 people does not matter.

Wendy Harris  //  Fri, Sep 21, 2012, 6:14 pm

Craig: I agree that there is a shortage of slaughter services in Whatcom County. This is the case throughout Western Washington and is the result of the the consolidation of the slaughter industry.  U.S. slaughterhouses have extremely high kill rates (the speed at which animals are killed and processed on the production line)to maximize profits (and yes, the slaughter industry does exist on a very small profit margin).  Therefore, they need a steady supply of cows, pigs, chickens, turkey, etc. so they contract with large farmers who must supply a high volume of animals to kill.  In this way, small and middle sized farmers are being squeezed out.

What this means is that there is a ready market of farmers through out Western Washington in need of slaughter services.  Therefore, I think the risk of attracting a large slaughterhouse in Whatcom County is real. The Planning Commission proposal does not limit the slaughter animals to Whatcom County farms. And what about the controversy over horse slaughter? Nothing stops the slaughter of other types of animals or the export of slaughter products abroad.

I would like to see the County evaluate the use of a mobile slaughter unit.  Farmers in Pierce County formed a cooperative and with the help of the Conservation District, purchased a USDA certified MSU which produces organic meat.  Some MSU are large enough to require 3 trailers. Studies indicate that there is a market for locally raised, humanely slaughtered meat even though the end product is priced higher.

If that is not a possibility, then let’s makes sure that we restrict the size and operations of slaughterhouses so that it benefits Whatcom County farmers, not multi-national corporations.  If there is no risk that large slaughterhouses will relocated here, then what is the harm in including restrictions in the zoning amendment, just to make sure? And let’s keep slaughterhouses out of the agricultural zone so that we do not reduce the land available for farming.

If farmers want farming to remain viable in Whatcom County, then they need to support zoning that is in the long term interests of the agricultural community as a whole.

Craig Mayberry  //  Fri, Sep 21, 2012, 9:38 pm


We need one small slaughter facitility that can handle a couple of thousand animals a year and that would be more then adequate for farmers needs for the next 20 years.  There is not a lot of livestock in Western Washington simply because the climate does not really make it efficient to raise beef cattle and no one is raising pigs or sheep in any large quantities and for economic reasons that is not going to change.  Large slaughterhouses are designed to do either pigs, cows or sheep, but cannot do all of them and there will never be enough animals of any one type in the area to provide them with the hundreds or thousands that they need in a day.  They would have to ship animals to Whatcom County from Eastern Washington or Bend OR and that makes no economic sense because of the travel and they already have large scale slaughter operations in those areas.  Land prices are too high here, compare to Bend and Eastern Washington, as well to make them economically viable.  Like I stated above this is not a fight worth having because it is not even a remote possibility so why waste the time.  By posting articles in multiple papers and outlets it runs the risk of people not being able to clearly understand the differences between a local slaughterhouse and a commercial operations and we run the risk of inciting concern over even a small one that we do need.

Wendy Harris  //  Fri, Sep 21, 2012, 10:00 pm

It is exactly my intention to incite concern!  The Planning Department is advising the County Council that the proposal by the Planning Commission may not comply with the GMA.  That alone is reason enough. And again, if you believe that fears of a large slaughterhouse are so misplaced, why not agree to a more restrictive proposal to placate those of us who are over-reacting? If we only need to slaughter a few thousand animals a year, then certainly a mobile slaughter unit would suffice, and would prevent loss and fragmentation of farm land.

Craig Mayberry  //  Sat, Sep 22, 2012, 11:54 am


Do what you want but you are wasting your time on a phantom issue.

In terms of the mobile processing unit you keep mentioning.  Mobile processing units are great under specific circumstances.  IGFC has a mobile processing unit and it is helpful for them to go to the various islands instead of everyone having to come to a fixed locations.  The problem they are having, and the problem with mobile processing units in general is that economically you have to go to a single farm and spend the whole day and process at least 3-4 cows, 8 pigs or about 15 sheep (or some combination) but very few farms have enough animals to do that on a regular basis so what ends up happening is that a bunch of farmers take their animals to one farm that hosts the mobile processing unit that day.  This becomes a logistical nightmare and one of the reasons that IGFC has struggled and why the mobile processing unit in Tacoma is under utilized.  The discussions in the county have been to use the Tacoma mobile processing unit a couple of times a month but have it be on the same farm each time so there is effectively a fixed place.  The reason they want to use the Tacoma mobile processing unit is that it is available and would save the upfront capital and they already have a USDA plan so it saves the time and expense for that.  The other reason is that by using the mobile processing unit you avoid regulations so we could stick it on one farm and dispose of the blood and insides on the farm and not be regulated.  Almost no farmer in the county wants a USDA mobile processing unit that is going to come to their farm, everyone wants it at a fixed location.  The new county regulations may make it easier on the regulation front to have a single location, but in the end the processing unit will be at a fixed location and the only mobile processing unit that would ever be used is if we borrowed an existing one.

John Lesow  //  Mon, Sep 24, 2012, 11:35 pm


There have been few expressions of support or revision from Whatcom County farmers on the Slaughterhouse proposal, so your belated comments are overdue. 

Too bad there was not more input from you and other farmers when the Planning Commission was engaged in the wholesale gutting of the original Staff proposal last May.

The current proposal before Council, passed 5-2 by the Planning Commission, should be killed. It is dishonest and, according to legal staff, a possible violation of the Growth Management Act; factors alone should give a thoughtful and responsible County Council pause.  Whether those concerns will resonate with the current Council remains an open question.  We will know tomorrow.

The Slaughterhouse proposal represents the race to the bottom that has characterized the recommendations of this Planning Commission on other issues over the past two years; Rural Element, Lake Whatcom Stormwater regs, etc. 

The original Planning staff report contained procedural safeguards for “Small Scale Slaughterhouses” (sponsored by Councilmember Barbara Brenner) that would have likely addressed the issues noted in your post;  to wit:

1.  The facility employs no more than 10 employees
2.  The facility is supplemental to dairying, raising of livestock, and husbandry of small animals
3.  The facility processes 50 percent agricultural goods produced in Whatcom County that originate from permitted uses
4.  The minimum lot size shall be 10 acres
5.  Code setback provisions apply
6.  Buildings shall avoid prime soils where feasible
7.  No rendering of animal byproducts on site

These recommendations were proposed by County Staff after extensive review.

The Planning Commission has summarily shitcanned most of these recommendations, much to the delight of local property rights advocates.  All 4 of them. 

Unfortunately, most of the beatified Whatcom County Farming Fraternity, of which you are a member, have remained silent with regard to the impacts that have been cited by Ms. Harris, as well as concerns of Planning Staff (including questions of GMA compliance).

You mention Snohomish County.  Snohomish prohibits slaughterhouses in Ag zones.  In neighboring Skagit, slaughterhouses are permitted as an Administrative Special Use.  In other words, special conditions attach prior to approval, as well they should.  But not in Whatcom County.

If passed in it’s current form, Whatcom County would allow Slaughter as a Permitted Use.  No requirement that the facility is supplemental to dairying or livestock.  No minimum lot size.  Minimal setbacks. No consideration for the retention of prime agricultural soils.  And rendering would be OK, too.  Typical of the “no rules”, scofflaw attitude now in vogue in county government.

The Slaughterhouses on Ag proposal is an example of the continuing mongrelization of Whatcom County land use by the Planning Commission.  And remember, we are appointed, not elected.  You are stuck with us for a long time.

Your Adam Smithian attitude on land use would find comfort and support on the current Planning Commission.

That great Invisible Hand would permit all Slaughterhouse Enterprises to live, grow and prosper in complete economic and environmental harmony, devoid of any impacts on the quality of life that the current regime is busily dismantling at the expense of those taxpayers that don’t happen to be farmers.

Seriously,  we need rules—clear, practical and effective rules—to protect Ag land in Whatcom County and the interests of neighboring property owners. 

It is ironic that the Planning Commission and County Council are now, ostensibly, trying to address the problem of “fragmentation” of agricultural lands;  while at the same time actively considering a proposal that would exacerbate that very same problem. 

The Planning Commission has allowed for slaughter in Industrial and Rural Industrial zones.  It is not as if farmers are being deprived of a venue. 

The main driver of this proposal is that the allowance for slaugher on all Ag lands represents an opportunity to increase land value by legislative fiat.  An upzone from Ag to Industrial use accomplished with the stroke of a pen from a compliant County Council.

So you can hardly blame the beleaguered farmer for opposing an activity that could allow him to profit from this new permitted use, irrespective of the impacts on the environment and the residents of Whatcom County.

Such is the nature of politics, as you and I can well appreciate.

John Lesow
Whatcom County Planning Commissiner - District 3

Doug Karlberg  //  Tue, Sep 25, 2012, 4:07 pm

Why would the government listen to an attorney with zero real world experience in slaughtering of farm animals in the first place.

Wendy, even in court, only people who are vetted as experts are allowed to give their opinion, and there are good reasons for this policy. This would be good policy for government to follow.

Your scaremongering about phantom industrial slaughterhouses hurts the economics of small family farmers.(or God forbid, big family farmers)

I have watched Wendy get involved in many local issues, and sometimes with good constructive and well grounded arguments, but the economics of slaughtering animals is one which I can see no foundation to listen to Wendy.

People do need jobs, and food processing has been the foundation for Whatcom County for years, and continues to produce jobs directly and spin-off jobs for many in Whatcom County. Ill advised comments that lack a facts based foundation, are harmful for job creation.

In my observations there are a lot of “do gooders’ which I will admit are well intentioned, but do not seem to be well grounded in reality sometimes.

We need slaughter houses, steel mills, dumps, recycling centers, and yes even coal electricity produces products that we all use in our daily lives currently, but it never seems that these “do gooders’ ever want any of these necessary industries in their back yard. They always want them in somebody else’s back yard, and then have them shipped by these dirty industries, to their clean and orderly back yard.

To often it feels like the “do gooders” are telling the rest of us how we “should” be living our lives.

The debacle on Catholic Services and its charitable goal of helping the needy was the latest local liberal hypocrisy. They want to take care of the needy, just not in their back yard.

At Catholic Services they were actually helping the needy (and not just by writing checks)

This is probably terribly unfair to Wendy, whom I do not know, but it would be refreshing to this old curmudgeon to see Wendy use her skills to assist these folks is solving a real problem.

It does not take much research to conclude that Whatcom County could use a local slaughterhouse, and I don’t know if she should get into the broad economics of the slaughterhouse industry, without studying the local industry in detail.

It is hard to become a lawyer, and I respect those who have survived the rigorous study of law, and passed the bar.

Having said this though the study of law is steeped in the utilization of logic and evidence based facts, and Wendy’s assertion that the minor land use action is the inevitable first step on the slippery slope to industrial scale slaughterhouses coming to Whatcom County does not appear to this untrained eye to be based in either sound logic and/or fact based evidence.

Craig Mayberry  //  Tue, Sep 25, 2012, 7:37 pm


“your Adam Smithian attitude on land use would find comfort and support on the current planning commission”. 

It is good to hear from you again, but you are misrepresenting my beliefs.  I have never publicly or privately (even in my own thoughts) advocated that we should not have zoning requirements and leave it to the beloved invisible hand to protect farmers or land.  I am simply responding to the debate over slaughterhouses that there are economic forces at work that make this whole issue non existent.  Slaughterhouses are a tough sell economically and there will never be a large one built in the county.  We do need one more small one of around 10 employees that needs to be placed somewhere in the county.  We are having a tremendously difficult time getting 1 more in the county so all I am saying that if the argument that Wendy is making is that there is all of the suddenly going to be a rush of small and large slaughterhouses in Whatcom County simply because the planning commission relaxed zoning then I think you are dreaming.  My concern is that we are going to lose one, not that we will all of the sudden have 5 to choose from.  My suggestion is that there are lots of valuable and important land use issues that need to be dealt with in the county that will have a very measureable impact on farmers and residents and that time and energy should be focused on those issues, not phantom issues that will never materialize.  Nowhere in that statement can you intrepret it to mean that I do not care about zoning.

By the way, someone will need to explain the “that the facility is supplemental to dairying or livestock” requirement.  I interpret that to mean that the land that contains the slaughterhouse would also have to have dairy cows or other livestock.  If my interpretation is correct then that will make it impossible to have another slaughterhouse because no farmer is going to do this on their farm as a side business.  The 10 acre requirement also will make it impossible to have a slaugherhouse because the economics will make it impossible to recoup the investment in 10 acres of land in this county when the facility only needs a couple of acres at most.

John Lesow  //  Wed, Sep 26, 2012, 9:51 am


Always good to hear from you.

Council did not pass the Slaughterhouse proposal last night, citing legal concerns/GMA compliance as reasons for pause.

On the one hand, Council was advised that the proposal was compatible with the County Comprehensive Plan.  (Council Packet-page 5, available online)

Council was also advised that the proposal had potential problems (four were cited) relative to the GMA in a memorandum from the Planning Department. (Council Packet-page 2, also available online)

These contradictions are the face of “inconsistency”, something that has gotten this Council into trouble before.

Months ago, I suggested that Slaughterhouses would not be covered under the RCW section dealing with “innovative zoning techniques”.  The legal opinion that was promised for the Planning Commission was never delivered. 

Last night, Councilmember Kerschner stated—correctly—that Council needed to have this legal information before they could go forward with the zoning amendment.  Which they will definitely do in the next few weeks.  It was clear that the Council majority thinks that Slaughterhouses on all Ag land is a great idea.  So you and Doug Karlberg are in good company.

Doug, I do know Wendy Harris.  Her comments regarding the environmental impacts of slaughterhouses, which include diminution of water supply for farmers and on-site sewage management in the County, are applicable and relevant to this discussion.  I always enjoy your point of view, Doug, but your comments about Wendy—which I assume apply to others who lack the erudition of a good slaughterhouse operator , are disappointing and not on point.

The topic of Slaughterhouses has been mischaracterized in public forums and elsewhere.  It is not as if we are banning Slaughterhouses in Whatcom County.  Slaughterhouses are now permitted in Rural Industrial Manufacturing and Light Industrial areas.  A more appropriate location than your next door neighbor’s property, in my opinion.

Other Counties in Western Washington do not allow slaughter in Ag as a permitted use. 

This zoning amendment puts Whatcom County in the forefront of Washington Counties that permit unrestricted slaughter on Ag land.  So, in addition to being the most noncompliant County in the State with regard to GMA, we are now going to have the loosest regulations on Slaughter.

Doug Karlberg  //  Wed, Sep 26, 2012, 2:03 pm


Thanks for the update. As to the legalities of a small scale slaughterhouse and the land use regulations. I will wisely defer to yourself or Wendy, as a freely admit that you tow are experts on the land use laws.

My issue is twofold.

One, primary processing of agricultural products has customarily taken place close to the farms. In my experience, this close to the farm processing is a natural phenomenon worldwide.

A regulations are made by humans, and hence have flaws, that we sometimes do not discover for years, or the folks with agendas either read the laws to be a narrow as possible, or insert definitions which essentially remake the intent of the laws.

Most land use laws were respectful of customary practices, and the processing of food near the sources and on land that is agricultural land is so apparent to anyone who has taken even a few minutes to study the farming.

Processing food products on AG land not only make economic sense, but also preserves the quality of our food.(Saves us money and preserves nutrients) We all win as consumers by this customary practice.

Berries, eggs, and dairy just to name a few are all processed locally near or on ag lands.

A severe reading of “processing” as an industrial use of land if read to the ludicrous degree, would mandate by government fiat that as soon as the egg drops from the chicken, any additional processing must take place on land zone for industry of one classification or another.

One would have to be blind in Whatcom County to not understand the customary relationship between ag land and primary processing of the food products produced by them.

The farm community has to be shaking their heads at some of the city slicker lawyers, on this issue.

Dairy, berries, eggs, and vegetables are all processed on ag land today.

We all benefit from this practices, and if the people that wrote the land use rules did not understand this when they wrote the laws, then our lawmakers would move to look for legitimate loop holes to accommodate a practice which is reasonable and logical, and society benefits.

Beating farmers that produce our food about the head and shoulders with a rule book probably written by people who likely never understood the agricultural community in the first place, seems to a dumb idea to me, and exactly what we should expect from our local government to understand and protect us from.

If I understand the legal position today, it would be allowable to establish a slaughterhouse on Bakerview Spur, but not one one a farm between Lynden and Everson. Correct me if I am wrong.

My second issue with Wendy’s view is the promotion of the idea that this land use will inevitably lead to huge industrial slaughterhouses. Clearly it will not. Most of us old timers understand that most of the larger commercial slaughterhouses have left our county for greener pastures, because they could not make any moo-lah here.

Industrial slaughterhouses need at least 1,000 cows a week to just break even, and there are not enough cows to to feed a industrial scale slaughterhouse, and as Ag land continues to disappear, we are getting less cows in the future.

The laws of economics prevent a industrial scale slaughterhouse from being built here probably forever, and projecting that one might come if this small land use variance were allowed is simply a cheap shot to scare people, because you fear that a facts based argument will not prevail.

We are blessed with good food here in Whatcom County, and we should be thankful to those who produce this bounty for us to enjoy.

John Lesow  //  Fri, Sep 28, 2012, 10:26 am


Thank you for your reply. Responses follow.

1.  Yes, it would be possible to put a Slaughterhouse in a Rural Industrial or Light Industrial Zone are under current rules.  Presently, Slaughtering is not permitted on Ag lands.  However, I have no doubt that Council will permit Slaughter on Ag as soon as the legal aspects raised at the last Council Meeting are addressed.

My bet is that on October 9, Council will approve Slaughterhouses on Ag, with few, if any restrictions.  Slaughterhouses will be a “permitted use”; the easiest to get.  Permitted uses do not require notice to neighboring properties or a hearing.  They are much easier to obtain than a Conditional or Administrative Use, which is the standard for most Counties.

2.  Yes, we do allow processing of berries, eggs and dairy products on Ag.  I suggest that the slaughtering of animals and the attendant problems of waste disposal, environmental toxins, water use, etc. are more challenging, from a public policy standpoint, than the sale of berries, eggs and milk.

3.  The Planning Staff drafted what I consider reasonable rules and regulations for “Small Scale Slaughtershouses” last May.  These rules were summarily gutted and, in large part, ignored by the Planning Commission, which favors a more laissez-faire attitude towards slaughterhouses in particular and land use planning in general. 

4.  I am not against small scale slaughterhouses, even on Ag land, as long as they are in fact “small scale” and meet strict standards.  The present measure does not reflect that intent.  My attitudes are obviously more Prussian than yours or Craig’s.  I make no apologies for that.  Besides, my term is up in December and I can assure you that my replacement—given the current makeup of County Council—will have a much looser attitude when it comes to land use regulations.

I truly value the opinions set forth by yourself, Craig and Wendy Harris.  Whatcom County is fortunate to have high caliber advocates that have the skills to present credible, alternative approaches to the conventional wisdom, irrespective of the issue.  The problem comes when those advocates are marginalized and their backgrounds and motivations are caricatured, as is too often the case.  Particularly in the current economic environment, with environmentalists being prime targets in the blame game on a host of land use issues; Lake Whatcom, Rural Element, etc. 

When you were running for Bellingham Port Commission, you stated that your take home paycheck has been based on results alone.  I can certainly relate to that. But I operate within a stringent set of rules and regulations in order to make a dollar.  I see no problem in applying the same perspective to public policy, and will continue to do so for the short remainder of my term.

By the way, I hope you are considering another run at the expanded Port Commission in 2013.  You certainly will get my vote.

Wendy Harris  //  Sat, Sep 29, 2012, 11:29 pm

Karl: I have never stated that industrial slaughter operations are “inevitable”, but without restrictions on size and operation, they are possible.  Sound land use planning is based on what is appropriate, not on what is likely, so arguments regarding the likelihood of large slaughterhouses somewhat misses the point.

We are also overlooking the basic incompatibility of certain land use goals.  We can not provide farmers with rights and access to water if we are also authorizing industrial uses which will compete for the limited supply of ground water.  We can not protect the ag. industry if we are allowing fragmentation of farm land.  We can not protect water quality if we are increasing impervious surfaces in the ag. zone.

We need to be recognize that natural resources are limited and prioritize competing needs.  The Planning Commission and the County Council refuse to do so, and are placing the future of our County in jeopardy with poor planning.

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Bellingham's only heron colony needs forested buffer - and the land owner is willing to sell. Greenways has voted to buy it, but our city council must act.

John Servais
Tue, May 31, 2016, 9:51 pm
5 comments; last on Jun 01, 2016

Memorial Day 2016 - Thanking a True Soldier

This veteran, Chris Brown, deserves our deep thanks for his achievement with Growing Veterans as Executive Director, a post that he has left. He will continue as President…

Dick Conoboy
Thu, May 26, 2016, 5:23 am
3 comments; last on Jun 08, 2016

Singing the Comp Plan Blues

As the city council takes up consideration of the comprehensive plan, citizen input is critical. Otherwise in a few years and in response to housing and land use…

Dick Conoboy
Mon, May 23, 2016, 5:21 am

Proposed over-water walkway is dead

The planned concrete walkway from Boulevard Park to the Cornwall landfill, using millions in Greenway funds, has been abandoned by Bellingham. We again thank the Lummi.

John Servais
Sat, May 21, 2016, 4:32 pm
11 comments; last on May 26, 2016

Breaking Free: A New Age Ghost Dance

Jay Taber, a strong environmentalist for decades, guest writes a harsh critique of the 350 org anti-fossil fuel demonstrations at the Anacortes oil refineries last weekend.

Guest writer
Wed, May 18, 2016, 4:46 pm
2 comments; last on May 24, 2016

Missing Options High School traffic study

Bellingham School officials expect a slam dunk by Hearing Examiner and city council on street vacation and conditional use permit. By Patrick McKee.

Guest writer
Tue, May 17, 2016, 7:45 pm
2 comments; last on May 18, 2016

Uber: Supporting the Troops?

Uber, the cheap ride taxi company, is targeting the troops to become drivers in ads disguised as articles in publications such as the Army Times.

Dick Conoboy
Mon, May 16, 2016, 5:20 am

Herons or Oil: Which are long term?

The March Point protestors this weekend will hopefully show serious concern and not disturb the heron colony near the refineries.

John Servais
Sat, May 14, 2016, 9:34 am
2 comments; last on May 15, 2016

No Coal Terminal at Cherry Point - Final

The Seattle office of the Army Corps of Engineers has formally denied a permit for building a coal terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County. Updated at 4pm.

John Servais
Mon, May 09, 2016, 12:10 pm
4 comments; last on May 09, 2016

Boring, predictable Trump plays to conservative Lynden crowd

Supporters say he will beat Hillary Clinton.

Ralph Schwartz
Sat, May 07, 2016, 10:47 pm
3 comments; last on May 24, 2016

Citizens: BPD dismissive of people of color

Group cites failure to investigate assaults on anti-police-racism marchers

Ralph Schwartz
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 7:04 pm
5 comments; last on Aug 25, 2016

An Open Letter to U.S. Representative Rick Larsen

Also to all U.S. Representative candidates in the 1st and 2nd U.S. Congressional districts for the election in 2016

David Camp
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 3:46 pm
1 comments; last on Apr 27, 2016

Five districts pass; GOP incites conservatives to fight map in court

Republicans rolled over and approved the Democrats' map to set the stage for a legal challenge

Ralph Schwartz
Thu, Apr 21, 2016, 8:40 pm
3 comments; last on Apr 24, 2016

Unanimous Yes vote for 5 county council districts

GOP vote for Democratic plan to prevent locked committee and then county council becoming decision makers of districting boundaries

John Servais
Wed, Apr 20, 2016, 8:01 pm
1 comments; last on Apr 21, 2016

Report on City Council Retreat

The Bellingham City Council conducted a retreat on 16 April to discuss a number of issues, including a set of proposed strategies to ensure "sustainable services."

Dick Conoboy
Tue, Apr 19, 2016, 5:14 am

OregonLNG quits: Cherry Point may be new target

Liquid natural gas terminal is rumored to be in planning stages for Cherry Point as the Oregon proposed LNG plan is abandoned.

John Servais
Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 11:55 am
6 comments; last on Apr 19, 2016

Deck stacked against Republicans at Districting Committee hearing

Fate of new county five-district map remains uncertain.

Ralph Schwartz
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 10:43 pm
5 comments; last on Apr 14, 2016

Don’t speak at tonight’s Districting Committee hearing

If you do, you better make sure you have something to say that's going to change someone's mind.

Ralph Schwartz
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 9:09 am
3 comments; last on Apr 14, 2016

Bellingham Planning tries to sneak one through

The Sunnyland residents have just learned they have only today to comment on a huge impacting building project in their neighborhood.

John Servais
Mon, Apr 11, 2016, 1:06 am
11 comments; last on Apr 23, 2016

No sign of agreement as districting committee enters final phase

After a public hearing next week, the committee will be asked to vote on a five-district map for Whatcom County in two weeks.

Ralph Schwartz
Wed, Apr 06, 2016, 9:18 pm
5 comments; last on Apr 09, 2016

Proposed redistricting map for your review

The Districting Master (the official title) has submitted his map for review by the Districting Committee this evening. Here it is for your review.

John Servais
Wed, Apr 06, 2016, 1:14 pm
5 comments; last on Apr 07, 2016

BNSF: A casual approach to railroad safety

At Clayton Beach, we have tracked increasing erosion under railroad tracks and written to the railroads and federal inspectors. To no avail.

John Servais
Mon, Apr 04, 2016, 8:17 pm
2 comments; last on Apr 05, 2016

$15 Minimum Wage - Assured Debt Peonage

Accelerating efforts across the U.S. to install a $15 minimum wage are playing into the hands of big business and codifying enormously insufficient wages for years to come.

Dick Conoboy
Mon, Apr 04, 2016, 5:25 am
2 comments; last on May 24, 2016

Cherry Point coal port development put on ice

Work on EIS put on hold as coal companies wait for Army Corps of Engineers decision. Well, it was not in March. This is not an April 1…

John Servais
Fri, Apr 01, 2016, 3:49 pm
3 comments; last on Apr 02, 2016

Fuller calls on Coast Guard to ‘stand on the right side of history’

Activist contests $10,000 fine for climbing on a Shell oil vessel. Rob Lewis guest writes this report.

Guest writer
Wed, Mar 23, 2016, 2:37 pm

Voting guide for Whatcom Conservation District

Updated Wed, Mar 16. Tuesday, March 15, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., any registered voter of Whatcom County can vote in person at the conservation district office.

John Servais
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 8:26 pm

Will Cherry Point coal port be denied this week?

Updated 4:30pm. Helena, Montana newspaper says GPT may be denied this week by Army Corps of Engineers. US Rep Zinke panics and accuses Army of politics.

John Servais
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 12:19 am
4 comments; last on Mar 24, 2016

Dems, GOP primed for legal fight over districts

Not even a letter from a coal terminal spokesman can save them now.

Ralph Schwartz
Tue, Mar 15, 2016, 12:04 am
2 comments; last on Mar 17, 2016

Districting maps E and F for reference

We post the next two maps to be discussed at the Districting Committee today, March 14. For the few who might study them and later contribute perspectives.

John Servais
Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 1:53 am

Democrats threaten legal action on districting

Legally threatening letter sent by Seattle law firm retained by prominent leading Democratic Party leaders.

John Servais
Sun, Mar 13, 2016, 1:06 pm
1 comments; last on Mar 14, 2016

The state of citizen journalism is strong: Two receive deArmond awards

The third annual deArmond dinner celebrated the work of Sandy Robson and Neah Monteiro.

Ralph Schwartz
Fri, Mar 11, 2016, 11:28 pm
2 comments; last on Mar 13, 2016

Potential Oil Exports From Cherry Point—Something else to put on your radar

What almost happened on the coast of Maine could happen here at Cherry Point. Portland, Maine, stopped oil exports - and Whatcom County can also. If we act.

David Camp
Wed, Mar 09, 2016, 11:20 pm

Durham, NH, - Surprise! - Rental Inspections Worked

Durham is an example of the efficacy of rental inspections, putting to bed the unsupported objections of landlords by presenting facts about conditions.

Dick Conoboy
Wed, Mar 09, 2016, 2:20 pm
1 comments; last on Mar 12, 2016

Dogged Pursuit of a Failed Vision?

Wherein, we correct some misassumptions but still ask the questions

Tip Johnson
Tue, Mar 08, 2016, 2:47 pm

Districting Committee: GOP accuses Democrats of gerrymandering

The Republicans made concessions on their district map but took a final stand at Nooksack, Everson and Sumas.

Ralph Schwartz
Tue, Mar 08, 2016, 1:15 am
6 comments; last on Mar 12, 2016

Idea for Our Times: Puget Sound Repair Project

Could this address the real problem with Puget Sound?

Tip Johnson
Mon, Mar 07, 2016, 10:40 am
6 comments; last on Mar 08, 2016

Districting Committee: Republicans lack legal compass

Republicans and Democrats remain far apart. Democrats have the legal high ground, but Republicans would go to court to challenge that if necessary.

Ralph Schwartz
Sun, Mar 06, 2016, 11:39 pm
1 comments; last on Mar 07, 2016

Punishing the Wrong Guys

Wherein someone's gotta do the right thing

Tip Johnson
Tue, Mar 01, 2016, 3:40 pm

D’Angelo undaunted by fine: ‘I had to make the moral choice’

Chiara D'Angelo comes across as emotionally intelligent and uncompromising in her high-stakes Coast Guard hearing.

Ralph Schwartz
Mon, Feb 29, 2016, 11:55 pm
1 comments; last on Mar 01, 2016

Elfo: Enforcement, Litigation or Risks?

Wherein inquiring minds want to know!

Tip Johnson
Sat, Feb 27, 2016, 1:24 pm

‘Goodwill’ wanted but lacking on Districting Committee

Republicans focused their efforts on torpedoing the Democrats' five-district proposal at the second committee meeting.

Ralph Schwartz
Tue, Feb 23, 2016, 5:01 am
4 comments; last on Mar 01, 2016

Anchor-chain activists face hefty fines

The Coast Guard has levied $30,000 in fines on two Bellingham climate activists. They will fight to have the fines dropped.

Ralph Schwartz
Thu, Feb 18, 2016, 5:01 am
16 comments; last on Feb 22, 2016

Jail Reform: Music to My Ears

Wherein sanity may finally be approaching a nagging jail issue

Tip Johnson
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 8:54 pm
2 comments; last on Feb 19, 2016

Redistricting: Democrats may have upper hand

Republicans and Democrats traded barbs on the first day of the Districting Committee, but Dems may have won the first battle.

Ralph Schwartz
Tue, Feb 09, 2016, 5:02 am
5 comments; last on Feb 10, 2016

Stop the Rental Fires Now!

Inspections of rentals cannot begin too soon. Seven fires in rental units since 2011 and almost half with ONE landlord. No but the clock may be running out.

Dick Conoboy
Mon, Feb 08, 2016, 6:26 am

Super Bowl 50 - Wretched Excess

From all the monumentally boring hoopla to the shameful rousting of the homeless Super Bowl 50 exceeds all expectations for greed and excess.

Dick Conoboy
Fri, Feb 05, 2016, 12:45 pm
4 comments; last on Feb 12, 2016


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