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Past Issues

Whatcom Watch Online
Whatcom County Council

July 2012

Watching Government

Whatcom County Council

by League of Women Voters

Action Taken at May 8, 2012 Meeting

Shall the council:

78. Affirm the scope and priority of action to be taken against the threat of invasive species in Lake Whatcom and other area lakes? Interim measures recommended for the duration of 2012 summer boating season includes public education about the risk of infestation, boat inspection, monitoring and collection of data. (AB2012-042) Approved 7-0

79. Appoint seven members to the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee? The County Council established the committee at the 2/14/2012 meeting, vote #31, with at least five members residents or property owners on Lummi Island. The committee will review and make recommendations to the County Council and the executive on operation and other issues concerning the Lummi Island ferry. (AB2012-044) Appointed to the committee were: Joshua Zender, Greg Brown, Stu Clark, Charles Antholt, Robert Busch, Mike McKenzie and Crispin Colburn

80. Add Ennis Paint of Ennis, Texas to the the list of sources for traffic line paint? At the 2/14/2012 meeting, vote #26, the council approved expenditure of $450,000 for traffic line paint from Sherwin Williams as the primary source and Alphine Products as backup. The three companies should alleviate the supply problems that occurred in 2010 and 2011. The paint will be used for road maintenance in 2012. (AB2012-168) Approved 7-0

81. Approve the executive to award the low bid of $131,527 to Mike’s Roofing of Snohomish for the replacement of portions of the courthouse roof? The project consists of replacing the roof over the rotunda, the assessors and executives offices. The work was advertised and two bids were received. (AB2012-169) Approved 7-0

82. Sell surplus county property by public auction or sealed bid? (Public hearing held) Surplus property includes: a Chevrolet 4X4 Blazer with 116,283 miles, a Kenworth dump truck with 458,862 miles, a Chevrolet 4X4 Blazer with 99,068 miles, a Ford F250 with 109,180 miles, two Ford buses with 201,589 and 239,700 miles, a motorcycle from the sheriff’s department with 34,373 miles plus four mowers, miscellaneous worn or broken furniture and equipment. A twenty-two foot Boston Whaler (boat) that is not seaworthy is also available. AB2012-125A (Resolution 2012-014) Approved 6-1, Barbara Brenner1 opposed.

83. Approve the South Fork Regional Park conceptual plan? Whatcom County has been planning a park in the Acme area since 1968. In 2007, the Parks and Recreation Department began a public planning process for 603 acres acquired along the Nooksack River in the Acme area. The plan is contingent upon funding availability from dedicated improvement funds, donations, real estate excise taxes, state recreational grants, private funding from the Nesset Foundation and other community organizations. The estimated cost range is from $1,200,00 to $1,600,000. AB2012-101 (Resolution 2012-015) Approved 4-3, Barbara Brenner,2 Kathy Kershner and Bill Knutsen opposed.

Action Taken at May 22, 2012 Meeting

Shall the council:

84. Send a letter to Peter Goldmark Commissioner of Public Lands regarding the proposed exchange of land in the Lake Whatcom watershed? The letter is formally requesting approval by the Board of Natural Resources for the return of 8,700 acres to Whatcom County. The current Habitat Conservation Plan will continue under reconveyance. The Mt. Baker School District has an agreement with the Whatcom Land Trust regarding compensation for lost timber revenue due to the exchange. (AB2012-066B) Approved 5-2, Barbara Brenner3 and Bill Knutzen opposed.

85. Authorize the executive to sign a letter of agreement with Friends of Sunset Farm to assist in maintenance and support of Sunset Farm Park? The organization was formed to assist in the operation of equestrian activities and the jumping course for the Blaine park. They will pay for maintenance material and organize work parties for trail cleanup, fence painting and such. The organization can hold events and seminars at the park to raise money for park improvements. (AB2012-174) Approved 6-0, Pete Kremen was out of the room.

86. Authorize the executive to accept a $757,963 federal grant to enhance law enforcement along the U.S. border? This is the 4th U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Operation Stonegarden grant for overtime, milage and purchase of equipment. The four grant total is $3,701,358. Also participating are police departments in Blaine, Everson, Ferndale, Lynden and Sumas. The grant runs from 9/1/2011 through 6/30/2014. (AB3012-175) Approved 6-0, Pete Kremen was out of the room.

87. Authorize the executive to sign an agreement with the city of Ferndale concerning planning, annexation and development within their Urban Growth Area? After a public hearing at the 3/27/2012 meeting, vote #51, the city of Ferndale requested some modifications and changes, which have been approved by the County Council Planning and Development Committee. This agreement remans in effect until 6/30/2022, unless changed by written approval from both parties. (AB2012-178) Amended and approved 7-0

88. Impose an interim moratorium on the acceptance of new applications for wind energy systems greater than 500 kilowatts or multiple systems per parcel with cumulative rated output above 100 kilowatts? (Public hearing held) ordinance establishing procedures for the installation of small wind energy systems was passed at the 10/21/08 meeting, vote #211. An emergency ordinance imposing a emergency moratorium (except Commercial Forestry and Heavy Impact Industrial zones) on new applications was passed at the 2/23/10 meeting; vote number 43, and the interim moratorium was first passed at the 4/13/2010 meeting, number 68. Interim moratoriums must be renewed every for six months. AB2011-223C (Ordinance 2012-021) Adopted 7-0

89. Amend the 2012 budget (request #8) in the amount of $1,782,566? Appropriate: $78,500 to restore freshwater ecosystems in Puget Sound, including both agricultural and riparian habitat areas; $6,175 to the sheriff to fund two radars units to improve school zone safety: $140,743 for sheriff to secure the international border; $757,963 from Operation Stonegarden grant to assist border security; $82,335 for maintenance and oversight of park properties; $499,350 to fund Mission Road improvements in the city of Everson; $217,500 for Foothills broadband project in East Whatcom County. AB2012-173 (Ordinance 2012-022) Adopted 5-2, Barbara Brenner4 and Bill Knutzen opposed.

1. From Barbara Brenner: I opposed the surplus sale because a number of items still only stated they had reached age and mileage guidelines. For example, the Chevy 4X4 Blazer with 99,068 miles is a 2004 model. I have a 1992 car with 140,000 miles that still runs pretty well. We need to determine surplus on whether the item is working efficiently. Some items actually stated that they were not working, or couldn’t get parts for them. It is not a question of surplusing while we could still get a decent amount of money for them. We generally get pennies on the dollar when these items are surplused and auctioned off. The council deserves to have more detailed information in order to make the most effective decisions.

2. From Barbara Brenner: I opposed the South Fork Regional Park because initially we were told us we had public access to the Nesset Farm by an organization promoting the concept. After we purchased it we found out only that organization had any access. We also were told by a family bordering the property, who had been there many generations that they were bullied to sell their property for the park. They are very afraid but won’t sell because it is their homestead. We could have saved lots of money by working with the Department of Natural Resources for an easement that would have been less intrusive. Instead, because of pressure from another group, the county proposal included an unnecessary, and much more expensive staging area. We are in the midst of a very bad economy. We laid employees off and have done a partial freeze on new hires. We are closed on many Fridays to save money. We recently received new budget information stating we continue to have more money going out than coming in and that it is expected to continue this way for at least the next four years. I believe we all need to prioritize our needs over our wants.

3. From Barbara Brenner: I opposed the reconveyance. because the county spends huge amounts of money to reduce the number of people in the Lake Whatcom Watershed and to offset existing impacts. An enormous advertised public park, which the exchange/reconveyance is required to be, will draw many more people into the watershed (I already received a call from the editor of a recreational magazine in Seattle asking if the park was open yet). More people will bring a much higher risk of fires, noxious weeds, insects, use of four wheelers (which is already a problem in advertised remote areas), even much more dog feces (We have an anecdotal study showing there is already a significant impact from dog feces in the Lake Whatcom Watershed). County residents are already allowed to recreate in this area now. It just isn’t advertised so it keeps the numbers down.

Contrary to scare tactics by proponents, this area has a prohibition against logging on steep, unstable slopes, near streams, and other sensitive areas-much of the area currently can never be logged and will end up as old growth without an expensive advertised park that will transfer liability to the county. Contrary to claims, there have been no landslides caused by current Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) management of the area. We currently have the best of all worlds. The state must manage the area according to the strict county landscape plan.

Also contrary to proponents, State Departments of Ecology (DOE) and Health already determined current DNR forestry practices in this area (the only practices allowed) are not any significant cause of pollution.

The costs will be ongoing and expensive, using money we need for purchasing development rights in the watershed. Development is the significant cause of pollution according to the DOE. The costs will even include funds we need to build a new jail. It is already public land and can never be developed. The only thing that will be reconveyed is money we need for the real problem of existing development.

4.From Barbara Brenner: I voted against the budget admendment because the $82,335 for park maintenance and oversight is coming from the Conservation Futures Fund. The fund, which was a ballot proposal to the public clearly states moneys in the fund are only to be used for acquisitions and purchases, not maintenance. A council member claims because the language says it is for purchases in order to restore, maintain...that it means we can use the money to maintain park property. Simple English shows that is not the case. We have other funds for maintenance. The Conservation Futures Fund is for purchases or acquisitions only. It isn’t just for parks. It is also for agricultural and forestry purposes. It is a finite fund. We need to use it as intended.

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