Letters to the Editor: March 2017

The Editor:

Last month’s PRAC meeting was well attended and I was heartened to see so many new faces at the meeting. It quickly became very clear that attendees were there to express their concerns about the impact of the revised PR Character Plan on their businesses and livelihoods. What also became quickly apparent was that quite a few folks were confused as to the focus, scope and intention of the Character Plan.

The Character Plan applies ONLY to the areas known in county lingo as the “small town commercial district”, ie, those properties that front onto Tyee down to Gulf Road and along Gulf Road to the shoreline.

Nothing in the current Character Plan applies to your home, built on a Rural Residential zoned lot or to any future homes built on these lots.

For those contractors who are involved in the construction of residential properties, the Character Plan would have NO effect on their business.

As the Character Plan was being revised it was, first and foremost, in the minds of the committee that Point Roberts’ economic viability must be supported and encouraged. Every revision was weighed against the question “Are we, in any way, inhibiting growth in our commercial zone with this provision?” We removed expensive, aesthetic requirements and substituted more practical ones. As we were doing this, we also strove to not only enhance the “character” of Point Roberts but also protect it from developers who might prefer to build cheap and shoddy structures over those with integrity. We believe we struck a balance.

The clause that we wrote into the plan, requiring ALL development in Resort Commercial zones to comply with the CP. was seriously considered. As more and more absentee owners purchase properties (both residential and commercial) in Point Roberts, and because there are only two, as yet, undeveloped parcels of land remaining in Point Roberts, (the property surrounding the Marina and the 25 acres on the bluff across from the golf course) we wanted to insure that those areas would be built out with structures that would require lots of local workers and that would attract tourism business to Point Roberts.

It is already clear that the County has little compunction about making decisions that will impact the quality of life in Point Roberts without bothering to consult with us regardless of PRAC’s existence: the C.U.P issued for the 5 150′ radio towers being one example and the latest spat of issuing 25 CRV’s all at one time being being another. Both the Character Plan and the Sub-Area plan are our ONLY lines of defense to prevent Point Roberts from looking like a series of strip malls on Meridian in Bellingham.

It seems that most of the concerns are issues that the Whatcom County Sub-Area Plan addresses. The Sub-Area Plan was written in 2001. Perhaps it’s time to create a task force to study its applicability and make recommendations to the County for changes that are more in alignment with the current economic and development needs of Point Roberts.

Annelle Norman

Point Roberts

 

The Editor:

I agree with the letter by Dr. Robert Woods in last month’s issue 100 percent. Point Roberts is becoming overdeveloped, too manicured and striving too hard for “the look.”

P.S. I like the library just the way it is. A charming building from an era that I miss. Fix outdated components if you must or entrust the structure for something more rewarding than demolition.

Lynda Taylor

Maple Beach

The Editor:

There was an interesting town hall at the Community Center on Tuesday, February 14 called so that the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC) could get input from the larger community concerning issues that arose while revising the Point Roberts Character Plan (CP). Prior to the meeting, I had attended several PRCAC and CP meetings, read the proposed revision, and was prepared to discuss issues that had been raised by the CP revision committee.

However, within the first few minutes, the meeting was hijacked by some residents whose intent was to persuade PRAC to recommend the repeal of the CP. Their primary concerns were that the Point Roberts economy is in trouble and the future doesn’t look particularly bright.
These things may be true, but the CP is not responsible. In fact, the original CP was designed to boost the economy and create jobs. While our economy might have gotten worse over the years, that should not be blamed on a set of guidelines designed to maintain the character of Point Roberts.

The anger expressed at the meeting is deeply felt and perfectly legitimate. But it’s misplaced. The CP imposes no regulations that would limit new jobs. It is designed to reflect the existing character of Point Roberts, and make our commercial zones aesthetically appealing and inviting. An attractive Tyee Drive and Gulf Road will draw visitor money and provide
employment.

I hope PRCAC decides to hold another meeting at which we can focus on issues like whether to expand the recommendations about architectural design for the commercial zone, what kinds of solar panels are OK, and whether private homes within the affected zones should be architecturally concordant with CP guidelines.

Without a character plan in place, there would be few brakes on the kinds of inappropriate projects that could be pursued on commercial properties. Without guidelines, developers who are not sensitive to this community will have free reign, and the result might not be pretty.

Rhiannon Allen

Point Roberts

The Editor:

The energy at Saturday’s Democrat 42nd LD monthly meeting was tangible. I was impressed with the turnout, with the involvement of new voices and with the obvious interest in our district.

Among the new faces were two young Bellingham lawyers, a union spokesperson, a statistician, a native American who has stepped up to represent us at the state level and a new (to me) young chairperson. All of this involvement bodes well for our future as a viable organization here in Whatcom County. I found this refreshing and energizing. Naturally, there was discussion about our district’s Senator Doug Ericksen. There was a call to action that will be refined in committee and presented to the community.

This is an important and exciting time to add your voice to the others. Together we can accomplish our goals of including all voices from our district. While other groups may speak with one voice, we are Democrats and include all voices in our conversation. It may be noisy and messy, but it is so necessary for our democracy!

Naomi Murphy

Ferndale

The Editor:

As a constituent of the 42nd legislative district, I am growing increasingly disappointed in state senator Doug Ericksen. While he is away in Washington, D.C. doing his other job with the EPA, he is not doing his job of representing me and Whatcom County.

On February 7, Senator Ericksen was absent at the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Committee meeting, but sent a climate-change denier to speak instead, wasting the committee’s time. He has been absent from 75 percent of committee meetings and hearings since he took his D.C. job and the committees he is a member of are three of the four least productive committees in the Senate. Yet he still is collecting his full salary as a state senator.

On Tuesday, February 14, Senator Ericksen posted a racially insensitive political cartoon on his public Facebook page. The post garnered hundreds of angry comments, including many from his own constituents. Despite having two jobs, he managed to find the time during the following day to delete most of the comments and block hundreds of people he represents from his page. He later went on to delete the entire post. This behavior is not acceptable from a state senator.

Senator Ericksen is not doing his primary job of representing me in Olympia. I fully support the citizen-led recall effort to remove him from office, but he should save everyone the trouble and resign immediately.

Eowyn Savela

Bellingham

The Editor:

Today was a beautiful day at the Point, so instead of using my car to go to the store I decided to walk. I live close to Lily Point so my way had to be APA Road. I was so disgusted when walking along APA right after Boundary Bay I saw the ditch full of garbage. These are not just bottles or empty cans but bags of household garbage. What can be done to stop this? We are always keeping an eye on our road and my husband is always cleaning and picking up bottles and cans, but big garbage bags?

We need more signs on the road to tell people they can bring their weekend garbage to the transfer station.

Let’s keep the Point clean.

Catalina Valdes

Point Roberts 

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