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Director:
J.E. “Sam” Ryan, CBO

5280 Northwest Drive
Bellingham, Washington 98226
Telephone: (360) 676-6907
E-mail: pds@co.whatcom.wa.us

 

Long Range Planning - Comprehensive Plan

2016 Comprehensive Plan Update and UGA Review

The Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) requires the County to periodically review and revise its comprehensive plan and development regulations under RCW 36.70A.130(1). Additionally, the GMA requires review of urban growth areas (UGAs) under RCW 36.70A.130(3). The UGAs must be able to accommodate population and employment growth projected for the 20-year planning period. Therefore, Whatcom County has initiated a multi-year project to update its Comprehensive Plan.

Whatcom County is required to complete its review and update of the comprehensive plan, development regulations (zoning, critical areas ordinance, etc.) and urban growth areas by June 30, 2016.

Environmental Impact Statement

Whatcom County will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Comprehensive Plan Update, Development Regulations Update and UGA Review.  Agencies, affected tribes, and members of the public are invited to comment on the scope of the EIS. You may comment on alternatives, mitigation measures, probable significant adverse impacts, and licenses or other approvals that may be required. You may view two documents relating to the EIS scoping process by clicking the links below:

Determination of Significance & Scoping Notice

EIS Scoping Document

The method and deadline for giving us your comments is:

Written Comment period has been extended to: April 7, 2014. Submit comments no later than 5:00 pm April 7, 2014. Send written comments to the Contact Person:

Matt Aamot, Senior Planner

Planning and Development Services

5280 Northwest Drive

Bellingham, Washington 98226

Telephone: (360) 676-6907

E-mail: pds@co.whatcom.wa.us

A scoping public hearing, which included a presentation by the County, was held on March 18, 2014 at 7:00 pm, in the County Council Chambers at the Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham.

Population and Employment Projections

As part of the Comprehensive Plan update and UGA review, the County and cities are undertaking a process to allocate population and employment growth to UGAs and the areas of the County outside of UGAs. There are several steps in the process of allocating growth, including:

  • Initial Policy Based Recommendations - The County and the cities issued recommendations to adjust the technical allocations based upon County goals, city goals, public input, infrastructure capacity, land availability, etc. This step included several meetings of the Whatcom County Planning Commission in late 2013 and early 2014 (see below).
  • Multi-Jurisdicitional Resolution - The Whatcom County Council approved a non-binding multi-jurisdictional resolution relating to population and employment growth allocations on March 11, 2014. This resolution provides preliminary growth allocations for conducting environmental review, further analyzing land capacity, developing draft land use planning proposals, traffic modeling and formulating draft capital facility plans.
  • Formal Planning Commission Recommendations - The Whatcom County Planning Commission will hold public hearings in 2015 on various components of the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan, including the population and employment growth projections. The Commission will issue formal recommendations to the County Council for modifications to the Comprehensive Plan.
  • County Council Adoption of Growth Allocations - Final population and employment growth allocations will be adopted in the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan update, which must be completed by June 2016.

Public input and discussion are encouraged throughout the process.

Meetings of City & County Elected Officials

In order to facilitate coordination of the comprehensive plan updates and UGA review, elected officials from the cities and Whatcom County are meeting to discuss growth management planning issues. The meetings that have occurred and that are scheduled are shown below:

1. Tuesday March 19, 2013 at the Lynden City Hall Annex, 205 4th St. at 3:00 p.m.

2. Wednesday June 5, 2013 at the Blaine City Council Chambers, 435 Martin Street, Suite 4000 at 3:00 p.m.

3. Tuesday September 3, 2013 at the Ferndale Police Dept., 2220 Main Street at 3:00 p.m.

4. Tuesday December 3, 2013, hosted by the Lummi Nation at 2665 Kwina Rd., at 3:00 p.m

5. Tuesday February 4, 2014 in Bellingham at the Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Ave., Conference Room 513 at 3:00 p.m.

6. Tuesday May 13, 2014 in Everson at 3:00 p.m.

A letter from the County Executive inviting City Mayors, City Managers, City Council members and County Council members to attend these meetings can be viewed by clicking here.

It is anticipated that the meetings of city and County elected officials will continue in 2014-2016.

County Planning Commission

The Whatcom County Planning Commission will hold meetings in 2013, 2014 and 2015 relating to the Comprehensive Plan update, UGA review, population and employment allocations and related matters. The meetings that have occurred and that are scheduled are shown below:

1. Thursday March 14, 2013 - UGA review briefing and opportunity for public comment.

2. Thursday June 13, 2013 - UGA review briefing and opportunity for public comment.

3. Thursday July 25, 2013 - UGA review briefing with a focus on population and opportunity for public comment.

4. Thursday September 12, 2013 - UGA review briefing and opportunity for public comment.

5. Thursday September 26, 2013 - Town hall meeting on population & employment county-wide projections and allocations to UGAs and other areas.

6. Thursday November 14, 2013 - Public hearing and work session on population and employment projections associated with the periodic update of the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan and the urban growth area review, which are both required by the Growth Management Act under RCW 36.70A.130. The update must be completed by June 2016. Preliminary population and employment growth allocation proposals for five urban growth areas are available below:

Presentations to the Planning Commission Nov. 14, 2013:

7. Thursday Dec. 12, 2013 - Public hearing and work session on population and employment projections associated with the periodic update of the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan and the urban growth area review, which are both required by the Growth Management Act under RCW 36.70A.130. The update must be completed by June 2016. Preliminary population and employment growth allocation proposals for five urban growth areas and the non-UGA area are available below:

Presentations to the Planning Commission Dec. 12, 2013:

8. Thursday January 9, 2014 - Public hearing and work session on population and employment projections associated with the periodic update of the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan and the urban growth area review, which are both required by the Growth Management Act under RCW 36.70A.130. The update must be completed by June 2016. The Planning Commission's recommendations relating to the preliminary population and employment growth allocations to urban growth areas and other areas is available below:

9. Thursday March 27, 2014 - UGA review briefing and opportunity for public comment at 6:30 p.m. in the Northwest Annex Conference Room, 5280 Northwest Drive, Bellingham .

County Council

March 11, 2014 Public Hearing - The County Council held a public hearing and approved a non-binding multi-jurisdictional resolution relating to preliminary population and employment growth allocations on Tuesday, March 11, 2014.

The County Planning & Development Services Department also provides briefings to the County Council on the Comprehensive Plan update and UGA review process. It is anticipated that County Council meetings will continue in 2014-2016.

The cities and County made presentations relating to preliminary population and employment growth allocations at the February 11, 2014 meeting of the County Council's Planning and Development Committee. These presentations may be viewed by clicking the links below:

 

Meeting Dates are Tentative

While the County is trying to let the public know about meetings well in advance, the Comprehensive Plan Update and UGA review is a long process and circumstances sometimes change. Therefore, please be aware that the above dates are tentative and subject to change. Please check this website for updates or call County Planning at (360) 676-6907 to confirm meeting dates.

General Schedule

The County Council approved a generalized schedule for joint County and city review of urban growth areas. This schedule can be viewed by clicking here.

E-Mail Notification List

If you would like to be on the County's e-mail notification list to receive periodic notices of upcoming events relating to the comprehensive plan update and UGA review, please contact Senior Planner Matt Aamot at 676-6907 or maamot@co.whatcom.wa.us

Public Comments