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What's New

Chuckanut Wildlife Corridor Comment

Below is an excerpt from Wendy Harris:

"The County Comprehensive Plan for the Rural Element still lacks measures to protect the Chuckanut Wildlife Corridor, contrary to the requirements of RCW 36.70A.070(5)(c)(iv) and despite clear instruction from the Growth Management Hearings Board to draft regulations that focus on habitat degradation and fragmentation. The Planning Commission is relying upon R5A zoning and the Critical Area Ordinance without any analysis of whether this protects habitat functions. Thus, the recommendations for Chuckanut, Cain Lake, Lake Samish and Wickersham do not protect critical areas, and therefore, fail to comply with the GMA..."

Click here 
for the full document

Committee's Latest Report:

The Files announce a City Council meeting on Monday afternoon, and one agenda item is the Finance Cmte. report on the financing the CRidge purchase.





Cost of Residential Development:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The latest study of the cost of infrastructure to serve new residential development shows that residential development generates a sizable fiscal drain on local government and the taxpayers who support it.

The results from the study, Cost of Infrastructure to Serve New Residential Development in Austin, Texas (Jan. 2011) are fairly typical of cities throughout the country. Each new single-family house generates public costs totaling $36,625 for the six infrastructure categories evaluated in the study (schools, roads, water, sewer, stormwater, and park facilities). The remaining six infrastructure categories were not included due to budget constraints, but may be evaluated at a later time.

The $36,625 is a net cost after crediting the development for all impact fees and future taxes it will contribute towards repaying bonds issued to finance the infrastructure. This cost will be paid by other taxpayers and not by the new development. At Austin’s current growth rate, new residential development will cost local taxpayers $122 million each year.

A link to the Executive Summary and full report are available here:

The $4,548 road system cost reported in this study is low due to the limitation of using the available studies and data from local government. The local planning agency used a very low road cost estimate and did not include sufficient road projects to maintain service levels (congestion will double). If the City were to build adequate road capacity at current construction prices, the costs reported in this study would be more than $10,000 higher per new house.

Cities and counties around the country are making greater use of development impact fees to help recover these costs and keep local taxes from increasing.

Best regards,

Reconveyance Information: 

Whatcom County has been offered the opportunity to convert over 8,000 acres of DNR land in the Lake Whatcom Watershed from active forestry to park land. Lake Whatcom is the drinking water reservoir for over 70,000 people. It already has significant challenges in maintaining water quality and logging contributes to decreased water quality in the lake. The land is currently managed to optimize the revenue from logging and the revenue goes to a variety of county programs and services. There are both costs to maintaining the property as a park and decreased revenue for those entities that currently receive funding from the logging. See the attached Q & A statement for the details.

It is essential that this proposal be adopted to preserve water quality in the lake. This is a very rare opportunity. The City of Bellingham has stepped forward to offer financial assistance in managing the property. The swing vote on the issue is Kathy Kershner and she recently stated in the Bellingham Herald that "She still wants to hear from people concerned about it." Contact her, be positive, be supportive, ask her to put the property in public ownership

Council members may be reached at their home numbers or via email.

Council Member Contact Information

Reconveyance Cost Estimates

Q & A Document

STATE OF WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY:  Comments on the Fairhaven Highlands Draft Environmental Impact Statement based on review of the State Environmental Policy Act:

     DOE Comments on DEIS

Select Comments on the DEIS:  The following are links to resource material prepared by RD's experts and by local residents:

     Earth and Water

     Emergency Services



     Flora and Fauna



Horizon Bank Under Two FDIC Cease and Desist Orders:  The FDIC issued two cease and desist orders against Horizon Bank.  A 1994 order prohibits the bank from engaging in multi-family developments.   1994 Order  In March 2009, the FDIC issued a second order requiring the bank to increase its Tier 1 ratio (i.e., net worth) to 10% of its total assets by the end of November.  Rather than increase its Tier 1 ratio, it has been dropping.  The following are articles about the two orders: 

Articles re bank's undercapitalization:

Cease and Desist Order (3-3-09) and Undercapitalization (Herald 11-5-09)

Articles re multi-family housing prohibition:  Development Restriction  (Herald 11-3-09) and Crosscut Article (10-26-09)

Strong Opposition to DEIS - The public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Study for Fairhaven Highlands was held on October 20, 2009.  Numerous experts hired by Responsible Development and local residents strongly objected to the draft report. 

 DEIS Criticized (Herald  10-21-09) 

Draft EIS

Video of DEIS Hearing (211.23 minutes)

Index to video (the number refers to where testimony starts):

     Dr. Bob Gibb, former medical examiner –  56:00

     Llyn Doremus, hydrolology consultant – 61:00

     Sarah Cooke, wetland consultant – 69:00

     Dave Bricklin, land use and environmental attorney – 85:20

     John Lesow, County Planning Commissioner – 110:40

     John McLaughlin, Ph.D., WWU Professor, biologist, researcher –     115.45

     Michael Botwin, former California Deputy Attorney General - 127.45

     Gerry Wilbour, blasting expert – 140.20

     Nancy Joseph, agency SEPA official – 152.15

     Brad Rose, Edgemoor Neighborhood Assn pres. – 155.20

     Christopher Grannis, South Neighborhood Assn pres. – 173:00

City Agrees to Buy 80 Acres for North Bellingham Park:  The city agreed to pay $1.7 million for 80 acres along Northwest Drive for a park.  New Park (Herald (8-1-09)

City Council Denies Water to Governors Point:  Governors Point Development Company appealed from the city's refusal to provide water to the proposed 141-home project at Governors Point.  It's appeal to the City Council was unanimously denied.  City Council Denies Water to Governors Point (Herald 6-16-09)

Major Revisions Planned for Cordata Project:  Ted Mischaikov, the developer of the 428-home Cordata project, proposes substantial changes in the proposed project that will include a 3.5 acre park, bus pullouts, trails and a community center.  Cordata Project  (Herald 5-4-09)

City Sue Because of Its Refusal to Provide Water to Governor's Point:   Governors Point Development Company sued the city for for $2.83 million because of the city's refusal to provide water to Governors Point.  The development company claims it will have to build a desalinization plant at a cost of around $2 million to provide water for the proposed 141-home project.  Lawsuit (Herald 4-4-09)

City Extends Watershed Ban: The City Council voted 6-0 to extend the temporary building ban on construction in the Lake Whatcom watershed area to provide more time for new development rules to be drafted.  Building Ban Extended  (March 10, 2009)

King Mountain Becomes Latest Bellingham Neighborhood:  The city approved the addition of 635 acres to the city, thus creating the 24th neighborhood.  The new area is located between Meridian and Mt. Baker neighborhoods.  New Neighborhood  (Herald  3-13-09)

DNR Buys 80 Acres of Blanchard Mountain:  The Department of Natural Resources purchased 80 acres of Blanchard Mountain  in northwest Skagit County.  It will be part of the 4, 827-acre Blanchard Forest state trust lands and will be used for timber harvest, recreation and wildlife habitat. Blanchard Mountain  (Herald 3-6-09)

Port and City Officials Like Architects' Compromise Plan:   A group of architects submitted a compromise plan for the development of the port (architects' plant  (Herald  3-4-09)) which was warmly received by Port and city officials.  Compromise Plan (Herald 3-5-08).

Horizon Bank Under FDIC Cease and Desist Order: The FDIC issued a cease and desist order against Horizon Bank that ordered the bank to reduce its bad assets and bring in more capital.  The FDIC accused Horizon Bank of engaging in "unsafe or unsound banking practices."  While the bank will have to curtail its construction and land-development loans, it is unknown what effect the order will have on the Fairhaven Highlands development.  Cease and Desist Order (3-3-09)