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City and Port complete draft waterfront documents, prepare for next steps

Bellingham's waterfront

The Port and City of Bellingham announced today (Dec. 17, 2012) the full package of draft regulatory documents and plans for The Waterfront District are complete and are being handed off to the City Planning and Community Development Department to prepare for the formal legislative review process.

“While we recognize this is just the beginning of the next round of public discussion of the plan, completion of these documents is a significant milestone for the project,” said Mayor Kelli Linville. “Our City and Port staff teams worked diligently to meet our shared goal of finishing these key proposals by the end of the year. We’re proud to let the community know these draft documents and agreements are complete, and the next important steps of the process are about to begin.”

To mark this milestone and to thank the many stakeholders and staff who have worked on the project, Linville and Fix are hosting a Document Handoff Celebration at 3 p.m. today in the Lobby of City Hall, 210 Lottie St. Members of the Port Commission and City Council are expected to take part, along with Port and City staff and advisory group members who have helped with the project during the past eight years.

“Since 2005, hundreds of community members have taken part in meetings to share their ideas and a dedicated core of Waterfront Futures Group and Waterfront Advisory Group volunteers have helped create these documents,” Port Executive Director Rob Fix said. “We want to thank them and recognize the good work that has been done so far to address complex issues and complete a package of documents that is designed to deliver the community vision for the waterfront.”

These documents chart the course for decades of redevelopment work on 237 acres of Bellingham’s waterfront. Most of the property was used by Georgia Pacific in its long operation of a large pulp and paper mill. The Port acquired the property in 2005. Because this brownfield redevelopment project requires a lasting Port and City investment partnership, the package of documents includes not only a subarea plan and development regulations, but also detailed implementation agreements between the Port and City describing commitments and creating certainty for future investments in the site.

In early December, the Waterfront Advisory Group completed its latest review of the Draft Subarea Plan and Development Regulations, focusing on changes that were made to a 2010 version of the documents. Their comments and recommendations will be submitted to the Planning Commission for consideration.

In addition to those documents, the complete package includes: a Development Agreement; an Environmental Impact Statement; a Planned Action Ordinance; and an Interlocal Agreement for Facilities Within the Waterfront District. All documents are available on the City and Port websites for public review.

Beginning in January, the City will launch its regulatory process that begins with a comprehensive Planning and Community Development Department analysis of all documents and meetings with several City advisory groups to examine specific elements of the draft plans, including the Transportation Commission, Parks Board and Historic Preservation Commission. This will be followed by Planning Commission's review and public hearing, scheduled to begin in the spring. Once the Planning Commission has made its recommendations to the City Council, the agreements will be considered for final action by the Port Commission and City Council.  The full process is expected to take about a year.

More information:

City of Bellingham Waterfront District Planning

Published: Dec 17, 2012

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