Whatcom County STILL Not Compliant With GMA

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Sat, Jan 05, 2013, 12:37 am  //  Wendy Harris

Get out your checkbooks, Whatcom County.  Thanks to a stubborn and ideologically blinded Whatcom County Council majority (Crawford, Knutzen, Kershner and Brenner,) 2013 looks like another expensive year.  Remember how the council allocated $50,000 from this year’s budget for GMA litigation?  They are going to need it. 

Less than one week into the new year, the Growth Management Hearings Board issued its latest decision, determining that the county will remain out of compliance with the Growth Management Act (GMA) on a number of important matters in the rural element of its Comprehensive Plan.  Several development regulations and comprehensive plan policies are still invalid (i.e, they substantially interfere with the goals of the GMA).  https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B4uUR0E44bH3bDFYSkstY29CSnc

Yes, the county won some issues, but not enough to prevent another unnecessary round of expensive compliance review hearings and comprehensive plan revisions.  And as long as the council majority refuses to accept its responsibility, focusing blame instead on the people who are prevailing in the hearings board proceedings, your tax dollars will be wasted.  If you do not like it, vote for someone who will comply with the GMA.

Of particular concern, the county has still not adopted the actions needed to protect Lake Whatcom’s surface and ground water. The hearings board highlighted the county’s failure to address phosphorus loading from existing development or previously platted parcels, and it continued to advocate a zero-discharge policy for phosphorus run-off on new property. The hearings board stated that “zero discharge requires some combination of limitations on impervious surface, preservation of native vegetation, reforestation, rainwater storage, infiltration, water reuse and treatment of discharged water.”  Broader water protection concerns, including water quantity, are being raised in a separate petition.

I will not go into the details about the remaining issues. I will leave that to ace attorney, Jean Melious, who will no doubt be posting about the hearings board decision on Get Whatcom Planning.  This community owes a huge debt of gratitude to Jean, as well as Futurewise, for representing the public’s interest, even when we did not know about it.  These are the guys protecting your pocket, your water, and your future.

 

Tip Johnson  //  Sat, Jan 05, 2013, 8:20 pm

I didn’t check the minutes, but the Herald said that $50k was a unanimous vote.  Anybody know for sure?


Larry Horowitz  //  Sat, Jan 05, 2013, 9:14 pm

Yes, Jean Melious knows for sure.  For more info, see Jean’s Jan 5, 7:51 PM comment at:

+ Link

The unanimous vote was a single vote on a 41-item (mostly uncontroversial) consent agenda.  Council did not vote separately on the $50k.


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