By Pat Grubb
A roomful of anxious residents turned out to learn about the proposed gravel mining project but left feeling like they knew even less than they did before they arrived at a special Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC) board meeting on June 14.
The meeting was held after the community learned that a conditional use permit (CUP) application for the project was scheduled to be heard by the Whatcom County Hearing Examiner. Although PRCAC chair Joel Lantz was given notice of the project on June 1, the meeting was not scheduled until after significant concern about the project’s impact had been expressed by Point Roberts residents.
What attendees heard bore little resemblance to the project as described in the application filed with the county. Property owner Jason McDougall spoke extensively at the meeting, answering audience questions about the scale and extent of the project scope.
Addressing an occasionally frosty audience, McDougall said, “I’m not the kind of person to send a lawyer to a meeting like this. I want to come to answer questions and dispel misinformation.” He added that there would not be 10 or so trucks waiting to access the commercial lane at the border, “there will just be one or two trucks.”
McDougall said no contracts had been signed to supply any projects north of the border, such as the Southlands project. Despite the fact that the application describes the project as being three to four months in length, he said it was their intent to continue operation indefinitely.
Local Mark Robbins pointed out that the CUP application was very clear on what the project entailed and McDougall’s description appeared to be completely different from the application. His comments were echoed by several other questioners, among them Renée Coe and Doreen Trudel who said, “I just question why this has turned from a limited operation to a completely open-ended project.”
Heidi Baxter commented, “It sounds like this has not been fully thought-out. I urge you to consider a more peaceful use for the property.” She suggested a park.
Others expressed concern that while they might favor a more limited gravel operation, the hearing examiner was going to be reviewing a much more elaborate, existing application and suggested residents should make their comments, objections and observations based upon the application in hand.
Following up, Arthur Reber asked McDougall to withdraw his current application and submit a new one based upon “what it is you really want.”
Lantz proposed to the committee that PRCAC motion to ask that the county planning department require McDougall to re-apply based upon his description of the project. The motion passed unanimously.
The official comment period closes on Monday, June 27.