Brian Calder and Tommy O'Brien have formed a new group, the Point Roberts Independent Business Council (PRIBC). Their mission statement can be found here:
PRIBC is calling for the repeal of Section 20.72 of the Whatcom County Code -- and asking community members to sign a petition in support. Several dozen residents and businesses have indeed signed on – perhaps without appreciating the impact of such a move.
Section 20.72, also known as the Point Roberts Special District, is "An overlay zone which imposes additional controls and creates opportunities not available in the underlying zone districts to fit the needs of Point Roberts. This district is designed to protect the rural character of Point Roberts while allowing opportunities for community growth and self-reliance." The full text can be found here:
The move to repeal 20.72 is deeply problematical for several reasons that the members of PRIBC and the signers of the petition may not know about.
First, without 20.72 we wouldn't have won the nearly three-year fight to block the radio tower array that was slated to be built at the corner of Tyee and McKenzie. There is a height restriction in 20.72 which, as the judge ruled, takes precedence over other regulations, including those of the Federal Communications Commission. If 20.72 were repealed, we would lose our protection against similar inappropriate projects.
Second, PRIBC's material maintains that the regulations in 20.72 hamper the economic development of Point Roberts. There is no evidence of any business failing to open because of the regulations contained in 20.72. There are myriad reasons why economic development is difficult here, but 20.72 isn't one of them. There are aspects of 20.72, in particular those that were appended from the character plan, that create problems but these are being addressed by the PRCAC.
Third, PRCAC has almost completed its mission to revise 20.72 and make recommendations to council for code scrubs and text amendments. It's folly to repeal the current version of 20.72 at this time and similarly inappropriate to undertake a business development study before the PRCAC has finished its efforts.
To be clear, we support having an independent economic development study, one that can make sensible recommendations for changes in the WCC – but not until after PRCAC has filed their report and council has acted.
Arthur S. Reber
Suzanne M. Rosser