Group waits for routine character plan review

By Pat Grubb

An updated and revised Point Roberts character plan is very close to being unveiled to the public, according to Annelle Norman. Addressing the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC) on August 11, she gave the group an overview of the document, saying it would be ready in the near future.

A member of the sub-committee formed by PRCAC to review and update the plan for the first time since it was adopted, Norman reported that her committee had been meeting for more than a year.

Norman said they had requested county planning and development staff review the revised plan from a technical point of view and “when that process is complete, we will be able to forward the plan to the committee [PRCAC].” She added “While it is up to your discretion, I feel strongly that the public should have the opportunity to review the final draft.”

However, in an email to PRCAC members, assistant county planning and development director Mark Personius advised the group that planning staff were in the thick of updating the county’s comprehensive plan and wouldn’t be able to perform a final review until near the end of the year.

He promised to assign a staff member to begin the review in the fall and to initiate staff meetings with PRCAC.

According to Norman, the plan has been made “more user-friendly” and offers a clear statement of the goals of the character plan and addresses the natural environment and the social and economic aspects of the plan.

PRCAC board member John Lesow said, “This is something that involves a whole lot of review by the county. I hoped we’d have this ready in the fall. I don’t want this to drop into some bureaucratic black hole and then we find ourselves behind the eight-ball,” adding that the meeting should be announced in the September issue of the All Point Bulletin. [As of press date, no meeting date had been submitted to the newspaper. Updates will be published on the weekly ePB newsletter and the newspaper website.]

The committee spent a considerable amount of time discussing Whatcom County parks department’s lack of action on the proposed lighthouse structure for Lighthouse Marine Park. Darrel and Dorothy Sutton have offered to fund the construction and expressed frustration at the county’s response.

“What are they doing?” he asked. He said he was told that by “the time it was all said and done, the cost of building the lighthouse would be double” current estimates. “How they came up with that, I have no idea,” he concluded.

Lighthouse Society member Mark Robbins told PRCAC members that the society had been working under the rules set by the parks department, which had subsequently “pulled the rugs out from under them … The guidance they gave us was that we could treat this as a private project and the finished product would be gifted to the county at the end.” Now the group has been told that the project must fall under the auspices of the public works department and that the lawyers who had said it could be a private endeavor were all gone, with the new ones saying it couldn’t be done that way.

“County council should get involved, specifically Barbara Brenner and Carl Weimer,” said Lesow, adding, “We should go on the record as the advisory committee and saying to [county executive Jack Louws] we give our full support of this project.” Lesow also advocated contacting candidates for Port of Bellingham commission seats. “If I was a candidate for port commission and wanted some of those 800 votes in Point Roberts, I’d certainly lend a sympathetic ear to this proposal.”

The committee unanimously approved a resolution 4–0 calling on all responsible agencies including the county parks department, county council, public works and county planning to work with the lighthouse society and Dorothy and Darrel Sutton towards the expeditious approval and gifting of the lighthouse project.

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