The Bellingham City Council has dropped a proposal for a November advisory vote on the Gateway Pacific Terminal project.
During a brief committee discussion of the proposal at a Monday, Aug. 6 committee session, council member Jack Weiss said it would be better if Bellingham residents focused their energies on studying the many issues surrounding the project, to prepare themselves for participation in the upcoming “scoping process” expected to begin this fall.
The scoping process is the first step in evaluating Gateway Pacific’s environmental and economic impacts. That process is designed to determine what specific issues should be studied as regulatory agencies decide whether to grant permits for the construction of the massive coal-shipping pier at Cherry Point, south of the BP refinery.
Weiss had been one of those who had pushed for the advisory vote.
Original blog post from Monday morning:
The advisory vote proposal is the last of four items on the agenda of a committee discussion scheduled to begin at 1:20 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6 in chambers at City Hall, 210 Lottie St.
After their last discussion of a possible advisory vote on July 23, the council voted 5-2 to direct city staff to prepare ballot language for council review at the Aug. 6 meeting., with council members Terry Bornemann and Cathy Lehman expressing skepticism about the value of such a vote. Both noted that City Council has no direct role to play in the decision on whether SSA Marine will be allowed to build its Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point. That will be up to Whatcom County and state and federal agencies.
The council has already voted unanimously to urge those agencies to consider the potential negative impacts of increased rail traffic through Bellingham as they make their decision.