In parts of this letter from the city of Bellingham criticizing a draft rural zoning proposal by the County Council, the city says that downzoning land in the watershed but then applying a new overlay to it will have the effect of allowing more development near the city’s drinking-water source.
A new analysis by Whatcom County staff refutes that.
Whatcom County Council’s plan would rezone 256 acres from zoning that allows either one house per acre or two houses per acre to zoning that allows only one house per five acres. It would also rezone 91 acres zoned to allow one house per two acres to zoning allowing one house per five acres. In all these cases, the council would also apply an “overlay.” With an overlay, landowners can still subdivide down to create new lots as small as the average of already existing home lots within 500 feet of it. Also, that can only happen if 70 percent of those lots are developed, and they don’t just exist on paper.
Here is what county planning GIS staff thinks the potential for new lots is:
Proposed plan (with overlay): 17
Simply rezoning everything to 1 house/5 ac. w/o overlay: 4
County Council member Sam Crawford sent out an e-mail to various parties (he used his council e-mail account) pointing out this staff analysis:
As you know, I’m clarifying this because of the prior information we (and citizens via emails, phone calls and post cards) received from agencies, community groups and constituents indicating that the proposed overlay would increase the number of potential new lots around Lake Whatcom. That does not appear to be the case.
This was just a tiny portion of the entire package of propose rural zoning and policy changes, and it was just a tiny part of the city’s letter. The city also says other aspects of the proposal in the watershed have the potential to cause harm to the lake. For example, the letter states there’s no basis to give areas of the watershed special LAMIRD designations.
What do you think?