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Past Issues

Whatcom Watch Online
Whatcom County Council

July 2015

Watching Government

Whatcom County Council

Compiled by Barry MacHale

Action Taken at May 12, 2015 Meeting

Shall the council:

81. Uphold the decision by Whatcom County Hearing Examiner Michael Bobbink regarding the Lincoln Park Retirement Home Center? On 1/21/2015, the hearing examiner issued a decision that denied a conditional use permit for a proposed development to the retirement home. He denied the application because a sewer extension to the proposed development would not meet the conditional use criteria. Julie Carney and Michael Reid appealed the hearing examiner’s decision to the County Council. (AB2014-070) Approved 6-1, Barbara Brenner1 opposed.

82. Uphold the Whatcom County Hearing Examiner’s decision regarding a stop work order and code violations for operating a commercial dog kennel? The Whatcom County enforcement officer alleged that the dog kennel, “Rover Stay Over” was operating illegally in an agriculture district. On 1/20/2015, Whatcom County Hearing Examiner Michael Bobbink issued a decision that found the business “Rover Stay Over” was operating in violation of the Whatcom County Zoning Ordinance and the Building Code. Based on the hearing examiner’s decision the county issued a stop work order. Ken and Charmae Scheffer, owners of the dog kennel, appealed the hearing examiner’s decision to the County Council. The council granted a motion to strike: 1. Any evidence in the brief or exhibit A that is not in the hearing examiner record; 2. The declarations of Charmae Scheffer, Dannon Traxler and Sydney Scheffer; 3. The exhibit C-1. (AB2015-080) Approved 6-0-1, Barbara Brenner2 recused.

83. Fill a vacancy on the Surface Mining Advisory Committee? Lynni Bennett applied for the geologist position on the committee. Ms. Bennett, of Deming, holds a B.S. in Geology from Western Washington University, and is currently employed as a staff geologist at Merit Engineering in Bellingham. The two-year term expires 1/31/2017. (AB2015-136) Appointed 7-0

83. Fill a vacancy on the Flood Control District Advisory Committee? (Council acting as the flood control district board of supervisors) The committee has a vacancy due to a resignation. Michael Schoneveld, of Ferndale, applied for the vacant position. His is currently employed as a farmer. The partial term expires 1/31/2018. (AB2015-155) Appointed 7-0

85. Approve an agreement with the city of Bellingham for the division of Emergency Management Services assets and liabilities? At the 12/12/2013 meeting, vote #240, the County Council authorized the executive to enter into a three-year agreement with the city of Bellingham to provide advanced life support services. This was a new Whatcom Medic One paramedic agreement. This vote will clarify the division and distribution of assets and liabilities acquired by the parties under the agreement. These include cash and investments, accounts receivable and payable, personal property, apparatus, and real property, as determined by audits of financial statements and appraisals. The final division/allocation for the county and city is $903,431 each. (AB2015-160) Appointed 7-0

86. Authorize the executive to sign a three-year contract with The Bellingham Herald for legal notices? The Bellingham Herald is the only daily newspaper published in Whatcom County. Advertising rates will be $11.34 a column inch for the first insertion and $10.50 for all subsequent insertions. The newspaper will provide 21 free copies to Whatcom County. The contract runs from 7/1/15 through 6/30/18. (AB2015-161) Appointed 7-0

87. Approve the sale of a ($10.00) license to provide legal property access over county-owned land? (Public hearing held) Brian Kerkvliet and Alexandra King own property adjacent the county-owned gravel pit on Laurel Road. The property owners have been using the county-owned access road in order to access their property since the 70s. They request permission to legally access their property. AB2015-152 (Resolution 2015-017) Appointed 7-0

88. Designate Portage Bay as a Marine Recovery Area? The Whatcom County Council created the Portage Bay Shellfish Protection District on 3/24/1998. Portage Bay continues to be impacted by reduced water quality in the Nooksack River. In September 2014, the Lummi Nation closed shellfish harvesting in Portage Bay due to water quality concerns, and in January 2015, the Washington State Department of Health downgraded shellfish harvesting in portions of the bay. The county continues to monitor and mitigate the water quality issues, and will therefore be designated as a Marine Recovery Area. AB2015-166 (Resolution 2015-018) Approved 7-0

Action Taken at May 26, 2015 Meeting

Shall the council:

89. Approve the master collective bargaining agreement with Teamsters Local Union 231? The previous bargaining agreement expired on 12/21/2014. The county and the Teamsters entered into mediation and successfully produced a new agreement. Eighty-five percent of the Teamsters Local 231 unit approved it, the agreement expires on 12/31/2016. (AB2015-169) Approved 7-0

90. Authorize the executive to apply for a $750,000 state grant to be used for construction of  a building at the East Whatcom Regional Resource Center? (Public hearing held) The request will fund capital construction costs for an expansion of the resource center site. The 12,000 square foot building will provide areas for: storage and distribution capacity for the Foothills Food Bank, indoor/outdoor youth recreation, community events, and the Columbia Valley Farmer’s Market. The resource center is operated by the Opportunity Council and provides social services to individuals and families in need in eastern Whatcom County. AB2015-165 (Resolution 2015-019) Approved 7-0

91. Amend the 2015 budget for the flood control district and subzones (request #2) in the amount of $400,000? (Council acting as the flood control district board of supervisors) Appropriate: $400,000 to fund 2014-2015 winter flood damage repairs. High water events occurring between 11/2014 and 1/2015 damaged the flood control levees at Bertrand Creek and Marine Drive, as well as the de Boer culvert/tide gate. AB2015-164 (Resolution 2015-020) Approved 7-0

92. Amend the 2015 budget (request #6) in the amount of $35,783? Appropriate: $29,783 for the 2015 boating safety program patrols; $6,000 to replace the engine of a compact tracked loader used to clear land for the creation and maintenance of trails and campsites. AB2015-163 (Ordinance 2015-020) Adopted 7-0

93. Revise County Council meeting rules? This revision creates the requirement for a “second” on all motions at county council meetings before a vote on them. It includes time allotted for explanation of motions, specific language to be used in making a motion, and required support from another councilmember in the form of a second. AB2015-082A (Ordinance 2015-021) Adopted 4-3, Barbara Brenner,3 Ken Mann and Satpal Sidhu opposed.

94. Amend the ordinance pertaining to the cleanup of illegal drug manufacturing or storage sites? At the 7/12/2005 meeting, vote #131, the council put a deadline on the cleanup by property owners and the ability to foreclose on property if it is not cleaned up. This amendment addressed protocols for illicit methamphetamine use sites, including designation, contamination and decontamination standards, and aligns Whatcom County with Washington State regulations. AB2015-069 (Ordinance 2015-22) Substitute adopted 7-0

3. From Barbara Brenner: I opposed revising County Council meeting rules because it allows a supermajority of council members to stifle an individual council member’s concern by not allowing a vote on it. It is not in the public interest because the public does not know where council members stand on an issue if they don’t vote. It will not show a vote in the written minutes for members of the public who desire to do research after the fact.The County Council has had its process in place, which does not require a “second” on a motion, since its inception decades ago and it has worked just fine. This vote will hide more of the council’s business from the public.

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