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SQUALICUM VALLEY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION FALL 2012 NEWSLETTER
As we enter this season of thankfulness and celebrations it seems fitting to let you know where the effort to preserve Squalicum Mountain is now and to express our gratitude.
Nelson Mathews of the Trust for Public Land is diligently working to put together a plan that will fund the purchase of the 745 acres on Squalicum Mountain owned by Gordon Iverson and Chris Secrist. Nelson met with the landowners several times this year. He has also met with representatives from the City of Bellingham, Whatcom Land Trust and with members of the Squalicum Valley Community Association (SQVCA). Nelson is researching funding options and hopes to put together a package that may include Galbraith Mountain thus taking a basin wide approach to protecting the Lake Whatcom Watershed. Nelson’s efforts are ongoing, and we remain hopeful that the outcome will serve to protect the City of Bellingham’s reservoir, the Squalicum Valley Aquifer, the Squalicum Valley’s significant fish and wildlife habitat as well as its rural character.
We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation for all of the support SQVCA received during the past six years. So often the needed support arrived at just the right moment. All of it has made a difference: your encouraging words, your feedback, the networking, the website creation, hosting and editing, the offers to attend a meeting or host one, and of course, the monetary contributions. Your generous donations amounted to over $100,000 in cash and in-kind donations. Thank you so much for being there when we needed you. You kept the fire burning so there could be light and hope.
Thanks also to: Our elected officials who graciously opened their doors and met with us at various points throughout this effort. They include: Kevin Ranker, State Senator; Pete Kremen, former County Executive and current County Councilor; Dan Pike, former Bellingham Mayor; Ward Nelson, Seth Fleetwood, Barbara Brenner, Carl Weimer, and Ken Mann, County Councilors past and present; Seth Fleetwood and Michael Lilliquist, City Councilors. Our attorneys: Barbara Dykes, Tom Ehrlichman, and David Bricklin. The Whatcom Independent for its coverage of our issue in the early days, the Whatcom Watch for publishing several articles over the years, Northwest Citizen for posting an online article, and the Joe Show on KBAI radio for hosting SQVCA twice; Craig Lee Rand Jack, and the staff at Whatcom Land Trust.
Special thanks to Michael Karp, CEO and the Board of Directors of A World Institute for a Sustainable Humanity (A.W.I.S.H.) for taking SQVCA under its 501(c)3 umbrella. Donations made to the “Squalicum Project” through A.W.I.S.H. are tax-deductible.
The quarterly newsletter took a summer vacation, and going forward, we will be retiring this format. Instead, you will receive pertinent information as it occurs. We await the news that there is cause for celebration thanks to TPL.
We hope you receive an abundance of whatever brings you joy! Happy Holidays
SQUALICUM VALLEY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION SPRING 2012 NEWSLETTER
The City of Bellingham and Squalicum Valley Community Association (SQVCA) were unsuccessful in their effort to obtain an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before the construction of Squalicum Ridge Road begins. Initially, this road will serve 26 twenty-acre lots for single-family houses. Twenty-three or 90% of these houses will be built in the Lake Whatcom watershed. When all of the land that is held by the developers is considered together, there is the potential for 43 new watershed houses each requiring a septic system and 36 requiring individual wells. The impacts of this development will have a negative effect on the quality of drinking water and the quality of life for both city and county residents. Whatcom County issued a Land Disturbance Permit (LDP) that was appealed in Skagit County Superior Court. The Department of Ecology (DOE) issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System construction storm water permit, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved a Forest Practices Application. The DOE and DNR permits were appealed to the Pollution Control Hearings Board. All three permits stand despite the appeals. For a detailed discussion of the Superior Court proceedings challenging the LDP please see the May 2012 issue of Whatcom Watch available online at www.whatcomwatch.org. Currently, the developer is applying for a third Forest Practices Permit (FPA) to allow the harvest of 35 acres that abut the Agate Pond Preserve. This 100-acre preserve consists of forest and lowland ponds and is traversed by Agate Creek. The creek flows south through the preserve and empties into Lake Whatcom. The preserve is a model wildlife refuge and a balanced forest ecosystem protected by the City of Bellingham under a conservation easement. The harvesting planned for steep slopes and forested wetlands poses a threat to public resources by: interfering with the natural mechanisms that regulate water quality and quantity, destroying fish habitat and displacing wildlife. This FPA undermines the efforts of the City of Bellingham to protect Lake Whatcom, its drinking water reservoir, and thwarts the desirable results of the good land management practices of nearby neighbors. Whatcom County Critical Areas Ordinance Maps indicate that this area is a Critical Aquifer Recharge Zone for Lake Whatcom, a geologically hazardous area, a fish and wildlife habitat conservation area, and an environmentally and biologically sensitive area. None of this will prevent approval of this FPA according to a DNR representative. SQVCA raised over $100K. Ninety percent of this amount paid for legal representation. A significant amount ($7500) paid for an appraisal that was done at the request of the landowner/developer with the intent of purchasing and preserving 745 acres on Squalicum Mountain and its eastside meadowlands. SQVCA’s mission is to protect the rural quality of the Squalicum Valley, its aquifer, its surrounding resource lands, and the Lake Whatcom Reservoir. Please visit: squalicum.org for more information.
SQUALICUM VALLEY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION WINTER 2012 NEWSLETTER
In December the appeals of the City of Bellingham and SQVCA under the Land Use Petition Act challenging Whatcom County’s issuance of the Land Disturbance Permit and Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance for the construction of Squalicum Ridge Road had their first consolidated hearing in Skagit County Superior Court. SQVCA is seeking an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before this project proceeds. The road will serve 26 twenty-acre lots for single-family houses. The cumulative impacts of the entire project, including the road, the houses, and all of the other impervious surfaces that will follow, warrant an EIS under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). In response to this appeal our opponents tried unsuccessfully, twice, to eliminate SQVCA from the proceedings. In 2011 the proponents of this road and development applied for and were granted two additional permits road construction. These permits are based upon Whatcom County’s SEPA Threshold Determination which the City and SQVCA consider inadequate and incomplete. The Department of Ecology (DOE) issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System construction storm water permit, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved a Forest Practices Application that allows the removal of 19 acres of forest to accommodate this road. These permits must go before the Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) to be appealed. In SQVCA appeals to the PCHB, we ask that DOE and DNR rescind their permits and hold them for review until the Superior Court decision is rendered. SQVCA’s attorney is focusing on the FPA, and the attorney for the city is focusing on the stormwater permit, each side will adopt the other’s findings by reference. All three appeals are grounded in SQVCA’s mission to protect the rural quality of the Valley, its aquifer, its surrounding resource lands, and the Lake Whatcom Watershed. Existing regulations will be ignored without them. The outcome of these appeals will have an effect on the quality of drinking water and the quality of life for both city and county residents. SQVCA is also working to build the partnerships and obtain the funding needed to acquire and preserve the 745 Iverson/Secrist acres on the mountain and its east meadowland. The appraisal the landowner’s suggested is underway. A representative from the Trust for Public Land (TPL) visited the Valley in December. A follow-up telephone conference with TPL’s Seattle office revealed an interest in the proposal. Congressman Rick Larsen, County Executive Jack Louws and Mayor Kelli Linville will be contacted, and the Whatcom Land Trust. The Board of Directors at Responsible Development (RD) gave a warm welcome to SQVCA. They agreed to accept contributions for SQVCA under their 501(c) 3 corporation making donations to SQVCA tax-deductible in the near future. RD shared its valuable knowledge and experience from its work to preserve Chuckanut Ridge, and made some helpful suggestions. To date SQVCA raised $65K that’s been spent on legal fees and for half of the appraisal fee. Funds for the appraisal were from donations given specifically to pay for it totaling $3750. SQVCA supporters are working hard and paying a big price to ensure the County does not allow the illegal piecemealing of this project that will have a significant and permanent impact on the city’s already impaired reservoir and the resources of our rural community. Please visit: squalicum.org for more information (don’t miss the article under Recent News) and to help us pay our legal expenses. You can like us on facebook too. Thank you!
SQUALICUM VALLEY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION FALL 2011 NEWSLETTER
The summer months were busy. While some efforts are ongoing, others reached fruition. SQVCA has successfully raised all of the funds necessary to pay our attorney fees in full. Many thanks to Barbara Dykes for her patience with our need for an extended payment plan and her genuine appreciation for each payment we made along the way. The preliminary hearing in our joint case with Bellingham in Skagit County Superior Court is scheduled for Friday, December 16, 2011 at 9:30 AM. Barbara and her law partner Tom Ehrlichman head a non-profit group called the Center for Salish Community Solutions. Barbara and Tom are participating in our efforts to acquire the Iverson/Secrist property. They along with the SQVCA Steering Committee attended meetings with County Executive Pete Kremen, Mayor Dan Pike, and Whatcom County Parks Director Mike McFarlane to discuss the possibility of SQVCA partnering with the county and city to acquire undeveloped land in the Lake Whatcom Watershed. An approach that includes preserving the other watershed mountains as well as Squalicum may result in funding for additional land purchases. Steering Committee Members, Dan Warner and Kurt Russo met with the landowners several times. Barbara and Tom wrote up our first counter-offer and contributed their personal funds along with those of SQVCA members to the earnest money that accompanied it. The sellers suggested we use the earnest money to pay for an appraisal. The appraisal will be done in the near future. Kurt is actively pursuing grant monies and discussing the land acquisition with private donors locally and nationally. Barbara and Tom are providing free legal services pertaining to the land acquisition. In August, Secrist applied to the Department of Ecology (DOE) for a construction stormwater general permit, and he also submitted a Forest Practices Application (FPA) to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DOE has yet to respond to the letter submitted to them requesting notification of the approval or denial of its permit. No road construction can occur between October 1 and May 31 in the Lake Whatcom Watershed, because it is closed to land disturbance activity. The FPA was approved and is being appealed by the City of Bellingham and SQVCA. This appeal does not stay the permit and logging in the watershed can proceed despite the watershed’s annual closure to land disturbance during the wet season. Three members of SQVCA met with State Senator Kevin Ranker in August. We wanted to make the Senator aware of our concerns and effort. We also sought his advice and asked what we could expect in terms of support and response from our state government. The Senator requested we “keep him in the loop” by including him in our communications with state agencies such as DOE and DNR. He also said we can contact him to follow-up with state agencies on our behalf. SQVCA’s membership was well represented by a Bellingham resident, Academy resident, and a resident of the Squalicum Valley. Amazingly, SQVCA has raised $50K since its inception. Congratulations and thank you to everyone for your continued interest and support. Together we can preserve Squalicum Mountain, protect the Squalicum Valley Aquifer and the Lake Whatcom Reservoir. We are city and county residents committed to clean drinking water, and we recognize forests are essential to water quality for human life and wildlife.
SQUALICUM VALLEY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION SUMMER 2011 NEWSLETTER
Five years ago this July 26, Bill Sygitowicz of Vineyard Development Group LLC met with the board members of the Y-Squalicum Water Association and concerned neighbors. He announced Vineyard’s plans for a clustered development in the forest atop Squalicum Mountain. He said the project had the approval of the County Council. The next day neighbors began to mobilize and learn everything they could about the proposed development. They learned that such a development in the Rural Forestry Zone was contrary to the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan and would open up the area to urban sprawl via the provision of public water and sewer service outside of the city and its urban growth area contrary to the state’s Growth Management Act. The ordinance that allowed clustering in the Rural Forestry Zone was examined. Its language did not prohibit future development in the so-called reserve tract. SQVCA members successfully lobbied the County Council and this ordinance was removed from Whatcom County Code in 2009. Currently Vineyard is seeking to build a road to service 26 houses on 20-acre lots. The majority of these houses will be built in the Lake Whatcom Watershed. Whatcom County granted the permit to build this road as if it were a standalone project. Under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) this project warrants an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The impacts of the road and the 26 houses it will serve need to be reviewed together. SQVCA is seeking an EIS in Skagit County Superior Court. This legal challenge is costing $19,000 in attorney fees. As of this writing, a balance of just $6,000 remains. Please help us to pay these legal expenses. You can donate online at squalicum.org or by mailing a check to: SQVCA, 2729 Jensen Rd, Bellingham WA 98226. Thank you. The City of Bellingham is also challenging the county’s issuance of this permit. In addition to the lawsuit, a Steering Committee comprised of three SQVCA members was formed in April of this year and is exploring the possibility of purchasing the Vineyard property with grant monies. Should SQVCA acquire the land, we envision it becoming a regional model of sustainable forestry. This two-pronged approach could result in a win-win: rural preservation and landowner/developer compensation. Part of this process includes taking SQVCA from a state non-profit organization to a federal non-profit organization (501c3). Our success will help to protect our aquifer, Bellingham’s reservoir, wildlife and rural life. Save the Mountain & Save your Water.
SQUALICUM VALLEY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION SPRING 2011 NEWSLETTER
The appeal of the Hearing Examiner’s decision allowing the construction of Squalicum Ridge Drive on Squalicum Mountain by Vineyard Development Group, LLC was considered by the Whatcom County Council at its meeting on April 12, 2011. The Hearing Examiner’s decision was affirmed. The Council’s decision is final unless appealed to Superior Court.
We are pursuing an appeal in Skagit County Superior Court. Whatcom County’s Planning & Development Services Department, its Hearing Examiner, and its County Council all ignored the illegality of allowing this project to go forward in piecemeal fashion. This road will service 26 twenty-acre lots for single-family houses. The cumulative impacts of the entire project, which consists of the road and all of the houses it will serve, warrant an Environmental Impact Statement under Washington State’s Environmental Protection Act (SEPA). Squalicum Mountain is a geologically hazardous area, a part of the second largest aquifer recharge zone for Lake Whatcom, a wildlife conservation area, and a fish habitat conservation area according to Whatcom County. In addition, the State Department of Fish & Wildlife has designated a large portion of the east side of the Mountain as a Biodiversity Area and Corridor (formerly labeled Urban Natural Open Space). This designation requires special land management practices to protect species that are listed by the state as endangered, threatened or sensitive. Whatcom County currently has no regulations in place to ensure such lands are managed properly, meaning there’s no protection for any listed species. The slopes on the east side of the Mountain have grades of 15-30%. The 2005 Department of Ecology’s (DOE) Stormwater Manual does not permit the dispersion of stormwater onto slopes that exceed 8%. DOE also said the developer is entitled to only one exempt well, enough water for 4-6 houses. Any exempt well in this area will likely have to draw water that is in hydraulic continuity with Lake Whatcom. The Lake and all the bodies of water in hydraulic continuity with it are closed to new withdrawals per DOE. Our appeal also seeks to remedy Whatcom County’s appeal process, which is out of compliance with state statutes. Only one administrative appeal is required before an appeal can be heard in Superior Court under SEPA. Whatcom County requires two, increasing the amounts of time and money that must be spent by all parties that are involved in an appeal. We hope to receive the fair and favorable outcome in our neighboring county that eludes us in our home county. Thank you for your continued interest and support.
SQUALICUM VALLEY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION WINTER 2011 NEWSLETTER
After a series of lengthy hearings held throughout the fall of 2010, Whatcom County approved the construction of Squalicum Ridge Road on Squalicum Mountain in the Lake Whatcom Watershed as if it is a road to nowhere that will have little or no impact on the water quality of the city’s already impaired reservoir, Lake Whatcom. The Hearing Examiner’s decision is dated January 19, 2011, and ignored the city’s objections brought forth in an appeal. The county’s failure to adequately protect the drinking water resource for nearly half of its population leaves this formidable task to the city and its supporters.
The road will provide access to 26 twenty-acre lots for single-family homes. There is no water available to build these houses. Lake Whatcom and all the bodies of water in hydraulic continuity with it are closed to new withdrawals. Legally, there are no new wells allowed. Even if wells were an option, they most likely would fail. The Chuckanut sandstone that comprises the mountain is not a reliable aquifer. In most cases, a well in such a location relies on a shallow pocket of water that can disappear in the dry season. Once a house is built and its water source fails this failure constitutes a public health emergency. Such an emergency could result in the circumvention of the State Growth Management Act’s prohibition of urban services (water/sewer) in the rural forestry zone. Such an emergency is preventable. According to the Hearing Examiner, these issues can be addressed when the building permits necessary for each dwelling go through the permit process. Shouldn’t county government prevent and not precipitate such emergencies? The Stormwater Management Plan for the road was described as adequate by the Department of Ecology at the hearings. It may be adequate for the road alone, but it is not adequate for the ensuing development that the road will serve and facilitate. In addition, Squalicum Mountain is identified as a geologically hazardous area on the County’s Critical Areas Ordinance Map. The County is not requiring an Environmental Impact Study for this project, and issued a Mitigated Determination of Non-significance. This project is significant. The County failed to examine the big picture and is allowing this project to go forward in a piecemeal fashion. We have decided to pursue an appeal in this matter. We are joining the City in an appeal before the County Council. With the help of attorney Barbara Dykes of Salish Law, former Snohomish County Hearing Examiner, we also filed an appeal in Skagit County Superior Court as we are convinced that it is not possible to prevail in an action against Whatcom County in any Whatcom County venue. This action supports our mission to protect the rural quality of the Valley, its aquifer, the surrounding forestlands, and the Lake Whatcom Watershed. We need your support, please visit squalicum.org and make a donation.
SQUALICUM VALLEY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION SUMMER 2009 NEWSLETTER
Perhaps you noticed the signs that went up in June to proclaim the participation of our community in Whatcom County’s Adopt-A-Road program. Thanks to the effort of seven neighbors SQVCA successfully adopted the portion of the Squalicum Lake Road between the Henderson and Jensen Roads. The crew met on Saturday, May 30th to pick up trash along the road, the majority was found in the ditches. Dan Warner, the proponent of this project, took his mission around the block. He gathered trash along the Henderson, Y, and Jensen Roads also. The results included the removal of one large, white appliance that was dumped just off of the west side of the Y Road. The machine was tagged, and Whatcom County Public Works picked it up within a few days. This exercise will be repeated, so watch for an e-mail or contact Virginia @733-3564 or Vwilkenswatson@aol.com if you would like to participate in the next cleanup. The program requires that trash be removed twice a year, so we’ll hit the ditches again this fall. Many thanks to each volunteer.
Recently logging began on the old Hamilton place at 4043 Squalicum Lake Road. This property is currently owned by CLN, LLC, a company owned by Gordon and Carol Iverson and Christopher and Nancy Secrist. They filed a forest practices application (fpa) and received an approval to clearcut 60 acres. According to the fpa dated 7-6-09: this is not a Conversion Option Harvest Plan (COHP), the land is not platted, the land will be replanted, and the land will not be converted to a non-forestry use within three years of the harvest. It also states that the landowners acknowledge that since they stated they would not convert the land to a non-forestry use, the county or city may deny development permits on this parcel for the next six years. State Senator Kevin Ranker is currently communicating with the Commissioner of Public Lands and the Department of Natural Resources concerning the issuance of a permit to clearcut a forest in the Lake Whatcom Watershed. Attorney David Bricklin’s bill is paid in full. We now have another achievement to celebrate. The treasury is largely depleted, so our celebration may take the form of a celebration/meeting in late September or early October at the Rome Grange. If you would like to help or have a suggestion for this event, please contact Virginia at the phone number or e-mail address given above. Thank you. Enjoy summer’s finale.
SQUALICUM VALLEY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
SPRING 2009 NEWSLETTER
The ordinance removing the Lot Clustering Provision from Whatcom County Code 20.42, Rural Forestry District was made permanent on May 12, 2009. The County Council voted 6-1 (Crawford opposed) to approve the permanent ban. The Council had received a unanimous recommendation to make the ban on clustering in the Rural Forest zone permanent from the Planning Commission after the commission’s March 26, 2009 meeting. Squalicum Mountain and others throughout Whatcom County with RF zoning will remain free of clustered developments.
Along the way: Development on the west side of Squalicum Mountain was brought to a halt temporarily, and ultimately more closely scrutinized, when SQVCA members brought the relevant Interlocal Agreement to the attention of city officials. The County Council added some restrictive language to the Conditional Use Permit issued to construct the reservoir near the Vineyard property. In Superior Court we prevailed, and we won a new hearing for concerned citizens and the City of Bellingham, whom the County failed to properly notify of the public hearing required to issue such a permit. Visit squalicum.org (this site) for more details of our history. Our payments to Attorney Dave Bricklin are current and nearly complete. Here’s a breakdown of what we received. There were 16 donations of $100, five donations of $200, four donations of $50, three donations of $500, two donations of $550, two donations of $400, two donations of $250, two donations of $75, two donations of $25. One time donations and the totals from individual households were $160, $450, $750, $1050, $1120, $1975, $2850, and $6200. Thanks to the generosity of these individuals, the support of the Y-Squalicum Water Association, and the revenues from a gift sale and two garage sales, we paid Dave $26,000 of the $27,500 he billed us. It’s not too late to donate. Several people donated countless hours. They did the research, they attended meetings and hearings, they wrote letters and articles, they put together printed materials, they raised funds, they paid out of pocket expenses along the way, and kept it going. They are: Susan Kucera Kirsch, Greg Kirsch, Gwen Hunter, Larry Helm, Darlene Rethlefsen, Judie Westhoff, and Virginia Watson. Thank you everyone.
SQUALICUM VALLEY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
WINTER 2009 NEWSLETTER
Last November the Ordinance Temporarily Removing the Lot Clustering Provision from Whatcom County Code 20.42, Rural Forestry District was renewed for another six months. The ordinance is in effect since October 2006. This is the fourth time the ordinance was renewed.
David Stalheim, head of Whatcom County Planning & Development Services asked the County Council for direction on the Rural Forestry Ordinance in a memo dated January15, 2009. Mr. Stalheim informed the Council there are no funds available to pay a consultant as previously approved, and his staff does not have the resources to do this work before the interim ordinance comes up for renewal again this May. The minutes from the January 27, 2008 County Council meeting minutes page 10, item 10 under the heading Report on Committee Review and Recommendations to Council Regarding Direction on Rural Forest Cluster Ordinance (AB2009-089) reads: “Caskey-Schreiber reported for the Planning and Development Committee and stated the committee directed staff to make the interim ordinance permanent. Staff will prepare a permanent ordinance.” This is not as definitive as it sounds. County Councilor Barbara Brenner explained in an e-mail that the permanent ordinance will go to the Planning Commission first. The Planning Commission will send it to the Council with their recommendation: either for or against. If the Council disagrees with the Planning Commission’s recommendation, then they will have their own hearing. The Planning Commission did not support the ban last year. It’s time to lobby the Planning Commission. Soon you will receive an e-mail containing Planning Commissioner contact information and talking points to support the ban. Also in January: A legal notice appeared in the Bellingham Herald stating Whatcom County issued a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) for a SEPA checklist that would permit the construction of a road by Vineyard Development requiring the removal of approximately 11 acres of watershed forest. Public comments were sought. The MDNS was withdrawn after the public comment period, and is being appealed by the City of Bellingham. On December 6, 2008 a fundraising gift sale was held at the Rome Grange. The day netted just over $400 in sales and $200 in donations. Additional purchases were made after the weekend and another $250 was raised. Many thanks go to everyone who donated and shopped the sale. In January and December we were able to meet our monthly $1000 payment obligation to our attorney, however, in February we fell short by $500. A spring garage sale is in the planning stages now. If you received this newsletter through the postal service, kindly provide your e-mail address so in the future you can receive this newsletter electronically. Please visit squalicum.org to learn more, join or donate to SQVCA. Thank you. One of your neighbors sends the following message:
Dear Neighbors and Friends,
You know that our neighbors Larry and Virginia Watson, Susan and Greg Kirsch, Gwen Hunter, and Larry Helm, have spent many hours working to protect the availability, purity, and quantity of our precious water supply. You know too that they have worked tirelessly to preserve our still-rural neighborhood from really inappropriate urban-like development that would affect Squalicum Mountain, Squalicum Lake Road, and the uplands above parts of Jensen Road. But I’m not so sure you’re aware how much they’ve given from their own pockets. They hired about the best land-use attorney in Washington State, David Bricklin (out of Seattle). Mr. Bricklin’s bill totaled some $26,500. He was worth it: the proposed development is stymied, though the battle is definitely not over. About $6000 remains owing. It’s not fair to burden these folks alone with the responsibility of paying for a service that benefits us all, and doing so discourages, by example, others from acting to protect our neighborhood in the future. Several other of our neighbors, me included, have been making monthly donations to pay off the bill. It would be a great service to our neighborhood, and a relief to the Watsons and Larry Helm, if more of us could contribute. Darlene Rethlefsen lives on the Y Road; from her business address in town she’s been coordinating the bookkeeping. Please step up to make periodic contributions. It’s not just the money: the moral support and neighborliness means a lot. It’s what makes Squalicum Valley a beautiful place to live. Let’s pay this off. Please send your check to “Squalicum Valley Community Assn, C/o Darlene Rethlefsen, 2300 Queen St., Bellingham, WA 98229.”
Dan lives on Squalicum Lake Road. He is an avid dog lover, Attorney, WWU Professor, Former County Council Member and Chairperson, Founding Member of Neighbors Interested in Pipeline Siting Issues (NIPSI) and Pro-Whatcom, and currently he is serving as President of Futurewise Whatcom. Thanks Dan!
SQUALICUM VALLEY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
Fall 2008 NEWSLETTER
Thank you to everyone who responded to October’s plea for financial support. We made a $1000 payment to Bricklin, Newman & Dold, and we have nearly $1000 for November’s payment. Currently, three families (Helm, Kirsch & Watson) have pledged $100 per month for 8 months and if seven more families do the same we can meet our entire obligation. Fundraising will continue in the hope that we will reach our goal in less than eight months and pledges can end sooner.
The Department of Ecology’s response to our letter is available on our website at squalicum.org. Andrew Dunn maintains that the transferred water right belongs to LWW&SD and that they have until 2020 to put the water to beneficial use. Appealing this response would have been costly and difficult, and Bricklin’s office wasn’t too optimistic about a favorable outcome. Recently, our neighbor Greg has joined the board of the Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CELP). He contacted Rachael Osborne, an attorney who specializes in water issues in our state, to ask if she would consider handling our appeal “pro bono.” We are waiting for her response. The County Council approved the Memorandum of Agreement that allows the transfer of lands from the Department of Natural Resources to Whatcom County for use as a park. The Bellingham Herald reported the merger proposal between the City of Bellingham and Lake Whatcom Water & Sewer District is dead. Larry & Virginia contacted the Environmental Protection Agency to apply for the designation of Sole Source Aquifer for the Squalicum Valley. This designation will serve to recognize and hopefully protect the Valley as the unique watershed it is. We will complete and submit the necessary petition to apply for this designation on behalf of the water and community associations. Other fundraising efforts: We applied for a 2009 Community Shopping Day at the Bellingham Community Food Coop. This program pays a percentage of one Saturday’s sales to selected non-profits. It can be as much as $1000. Since the holidays are approaching we’d like to know if there is any support for a Gift Sale (re-gifting for a worthy cause)? We are hoping to have at least 100 new items that we can sell for $10 each. Items that would retail for $20 would be ideal. Perhaps you received a gift that you cannot use; maybe you can knit or crochet a hat, scarf or mittens; make an ornament; or bake something special? Please check with family and friends for donations. You can contact Virginia @ 733-3564 to arrange for pick-up or delivery of items. We would like to schedule the sale for Saturday, December 6, and hope to hold it at the Rome Grange.
SQUALICUM VALLEY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
SUMMER 2008 NEWSLETTER
Good news: The spring garage sale netted $1121.00, and we now have a website. Be sure to visit www.squalicum.org. You’ll find a timeline, documents, photos, and you can donate online. Encourage your friends to visit the site. Perhaps they will join our efforts and lend their support in whatever way they can.
Not So Good News: In April, SqVCA filed its second appeal of the CUP issued to LWW&SD allowing them to construct a reservoir and install an oversized waterline to serve the Lake Whatcom Residential Treatment Center. Despite the appeal, construction began in June. It turns out the CUP appeal process does not grant the county council the authority to halt construction of a project until a pending appeal is heard. Attorney Dave Bricklin addressed this in a letter to council chair Carl Weimer. You can read Dave’s letter and Carl’s response at www.squalicum.org. To date the Feasibility Study, Resolution 705, and the Developer’s Agreement between LWW&SD and Vineyard Development were not reviewed by the county council in any formal process. More News: As has been the case all along, every effort to learn about the laws that exist to protect rural and resource lands as well as our neighboring water resources has provided a new approach for our efforts. Currently, SqVCA and Dave Bricklin are focusing on the Department of Ecology’s failure to properly enforce state water law and its improper transfer of water rights between the Johnson and Geisbrecht wells. It now appears that LWW&SD may not have the right to the water they plan to use to fill the Treatment Center’s reservoir and serve additional developments along North Shore. Other News: Whatcom County is proposing a park in the Lake Whatcom watershed consisting of ~8400 acres. Currently, this land is managed by the Department of Natural Resources and provides revenue to the county and the Mt. Baker School District. Our school district will lose $187,000 annually. There is no plan to replace this money. Timber harvests occur under the Lake Whatcom Landscape Plan to ensure best management practices. Logging will continue in the watershed and increase on private lands in the watershed as landowners who are not subject to the Landscape Plan will continue to harvest trees. The park will mean increased taxes and thousands of more visitors boating on the lake, hiking, camping and recreating in the watershed. Figures from Whatcom County Planning presented at the Lake Whatcom Forestry Forum in 1990 show forest practices in the watershed have decreased from around 1000 acres annually to 400 acres per year. This decrease in forest practice activity has not produced any noticeable effect on decreasing water quality. In fact, water quality has decreased substantially in the last two decades. The continuing degradation of the Lake Whatcom Reservoir is due to development and failure to enforce existing regulations intended to mitigate its deleterious effects. Always Newsworthy: Gratitude and appreciation are due to Judie for the success of the garage sale; to Tom for the wonderful website; to Lynn for her outstanding generosity; and to Greg for his audacity and tenacity.
SQUALICUM VALLEY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
SPRING 2008 NEWSLETTER
On March 19, 2008, the Hearing Examiner once again granted a conditional use permit to Lake Whatcom Water & Sewer District to construct a 105,700 gallon reservoir and install approximately 1700 linear feet of 8 inch water main under the guise of providing improved water service to the Lake Whatcom Residential Treatment Center. As a result of this latest hearing, the Feasibility Study, Resolution 705, and the Developer’s Agreement became part of the official record. These documents illustrate the connection between this project and Vineyard Development’s plans for the top of Squalicum Mountain. On April 21, 2008, SqVCA filed an appeal of this decision with the County Council. May our councilors take the time to examine the telltale documents.
Shortly after our appeal was filed, the City of Bellingham began negotiating with LWW&SD to explore the possibility of merging the water district with the city’s department of public works. The mayor and the city council support our position that the improved water service to the Treatment Center not be used to foster inappropriate development in the watershed. If and when the merger is complete, we can expect the Treatment Center to receive improved water service without Vineyard or others obtaining water service that will fuel new development. We await the outcome of the city’s negotiations and its effects on our appeal. Meanwhile, Whatcom County has hired attorney David Bricklin to represent it in a lawsuit challenging the county’s decision to limit the expansion of Bellingham’s Urban Growth Area on the north side of town. Dave is our attorney and an expert in land use issues. His serving the county can only help to educate our local government and its legal team regarding land use regulations. Thank you to all our friends, neighbors and supporters. Your donations of 100 or 100’s of dollars funded our efforts. Since SqVCA formed in the summer of 2006, an emergency ordinance removing the clustering provision in the Rural Forestry (RF) zone was enacted; the interlocal agreement between Water District 7 and the City of Bellingham limiting water service to new development on Squalicum Mountain was brought to the attention of city leaders to ensure enforcement; a challenge to LWW&SD’s conditional use permit was brought before the County Council and then to Superior Court where a new hearing was won. Recently, the Whatcom County Planning Commission recommended the council hire a consultant to study the unintended consequences of clustering in the RF zone. The council accepted this recommendation. It looks like the city will be taking over a rogue water district and limiting water service outside of the city and its urban growth area as required under the Growth Management Act. Please continue to support our fundraising efforts. Donations are always welcome. SqVCA will hold a garage sale at the Rome Grange on June 7 & 8. You can drop off your donations on Friday, June 6 then bring your friends and family to shop on Saturday and Sunday. Please call Judie @ 592-5976 or Virginia @ 733-3564 for more information. Hope to see you there.