County Council’s Special Committee of the Whole Meeting held Tuesday morning, July 10, 2018 – by Mike Curtiss for CTNW
Whatcom County Council members continued their discussion of preliminary draft comprehensive plan and zoning code amendments for Cherry Point during their Special Committee of the Whole on Tuesday morning, July 10. For the last 4 meetings, council members have been discussing Council’s proposed resolution No. 2018-015 relating to the Cherry Point Urban Growth Area (UGA).
Their latest discussion went over the following:
-Adding hazardous substances to the list of exports affected by the plan.
-Requiring Conditional Use Permits for new or expanded crude oil, liquefied petroleum gas, and natural gas facilities.
-Requiring Conditional Use Permits for new or expanded petroleum pipelines and natural gas pipelines.
-Prohibiting additional piers and coal facilities in the Cherry Point UGA.
Here are some of the latest proposed changes to their draft amendments:
Background page has added sentence: “The existing industries in the Cherry Point UGA, which provide significant employment, have produced and shipped refined fossil fuels and other products for decades.” Recommended by the County Executive’s office.
Whatcom County prohibits building any new piers at Cherry Point with only a few very specific exceptions. One of those exceptions – “honor any existing vested rights or other legally-enforceable agreements for an additional dock/pier” – was removed. County staff said removing the language wouldn’t take away anyone’s vested rights if they exist.
Adds “hazardous substances” to the list of exports that will be affected by this plan. Also adds language specifying that this plan will limit negative impacts from “new or expanded” facilities. Potentially legally significant language was removed referring to the Cascadia Law Group’s study completed for Council earlier this year.
Adds a definition of “hazardous substance” – the same as used in the Shoreline Management Program – into the Comp Plan, because the term is being used in the proposed Comp Plan amendments.
Whatcom County Code Title 20 Amendments:
Adds language to the lists of Permitted and Conditional Uses for both Light Impact Industrial (LII) and Heavy Impact Industrial (HII) Districts, specifying that “new or expanded crude oil, coal, liquefied petroleum gas, and natural gas facilities require a conditional use permit.” However, council members passed a motion that removes “coal” from this list of facilities that are eligible for a conditional use permit.
Removes “Marine port facilities” from the list of HII Permitted Uses.
Adds “New piers in the Cherry Point Urban Growth Area” to the list of HII Prohibited Uses. Council members passed a motion that adds coal facilities to this prohibited list.
Public Utilities Chapter Amendments:
Proposed changes would require a conditional use permit for new or expanded petroleum pipelines and natural gas pipelines. Replacing a pipeline with one of the same size would still be permitted, but if companies want to enlarge or expand a pipeline that would now require a conditional use permit.
Major Project Permit Procedures Amendments:
Changes to an approved major project permit would now require prior review and approval by the county council.
Whatcom County Code Title 22 Amendments:
Amends title 22 to include bonding for type 4 permits, and if legally allowed require insurance policies.
Council members want to continue working on specific language changes before having a public hearing. Then Planning would conduct SEPA review and hold a town hall meeting in late summer or early fall, followed by more public hearings before the council makes a final decision.
At the regular evening council meeting, Labor union representatives spoke about the importance of preserving jobs at Cherry Point during the open comment period.