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Letterbox - Help Save Squalicum Mountain


January 2008

Dear Watchers

Letterbox - Help Save Squalicum Mountain

Squalicum Valley Community Association Needs Help Help

Dear Watchers:

My neighbors and I have been working to protect Squalicum Mountain from inappropriate development for over a year now. The proposed clustered development is an unsuitable use of resource land designated Rural Forest. In addition, clustering will allow more houses to be built in the Lake Whatcom watershed.

I cannot tell you how many hours the core group of volunteers has spent on this issue. What began as an effort to prevent a clustered development on top of Squalicum Mountain has become an effort to protect all of Whatcom County’s resource lands from the ravages of unbridled development. The state’s Growth Management Act was enacted to do just this, yet our county government has failed to uphold this law.

The article below provides some history and the details of where we are currently in this endeavor. I am writing to you because the Squalicum Valley Community Association (SqVCA) needs your financial support to continue its important work.

Please give whatever you can. SqVCA needs 200 people to donate $100 each. The majority of these funds will be used to pay the legal fees associated with the appeal described on the below. I hope you agree that $100 is a small price to pay to help protect Bellingham’s only reservoir and to keep the mountains that surround Bellingham covered with forests instead of houses. If you count yourself among the seven out of 10 people who want this county to retain its rural and agricultural character, we need your help now.

The Squalicum Valley Community Association is a nonprofit organization. Please send your contribution to: Squalicum Valley Community Association, c/o Darlene Rethlefsen, Treasurer, 2300 Queen Street, Bellingham, WA, 98225.

If you would like more information, you can e-mail me at Vwilkenswatson@aol.com or call me at (360) 739-2080. Please share this information with other concerned citizens.

Thank you for your support. It is greatly appreciated.

Virginia Watson
SqVCA President



Development Threatens Squalicum Mountain

Lake Whatcom Water & Sewer District (LWW&SD) has obtained a conditional-use permit to construct a reservoir and install 1,700 linear feet of eight-inch water main. The address given for the location of the 105,700-gallon reservoir is 3400 Agate Heights Road. LWW&SD claims this reservoir and water main are to service the Lake Whatcom Residential Treatment Center only.

In August of 2006 members of the Squalicum Valley Community Association learned this project is step one of the strategy identified in a feasibility study done on behalf of Vineyard Development Group LLC to obtain water for its proposed clustered development on top of Squalicum Mountain.

LWW&SD has a map posted in its conference room showing this water main continuing beyond the treatment center to the cluster site and ultimately connecting to Water District 7’s eight-inch main on Academy.

In January of 2007 the Y-Squalicum Water and Squalicum Valley Community Associations wrote letters to LWW&SD and the Whatcom County Planning and Development Services Department expressing interest in and concern about this project. Those letters went unanswered.

Notice of the public hearing pertaining to this permit application was not received. It was by chance that the date and time the Hearing Examiner set for the permit hearing were discovered. Fortunately, an officer from each association was able to attend. The water association’s well and the Agate Bay area wells used by LWW&SD rely upon the same aquifer. No aquifer study has been done.

While state water law protects senior water rights, the burden of proving negative impacts lies with those negatively impacted. We contend that the eight-inch main is not necessary to service the treatment center. The water association serves 70 families with four and six inch pipes. We contend that an eight-inch water main constitutes an urban level of service and therefore is prohibited by the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA) in the rural zone.

The Y-Squalicum Water and Squalicum Valley Community Associations joined together to appeal the approval of LWW&SD’s Conditional-Use Permit. The notice of appeal was filed in July.

As a result of the appeal, on October 11, 2007, the County Council added the following words to the conditional-use permit: “The improvements authorized by this permit shall not be used in the future to improperly extend urban services to the rural areas contrary to the provisions of the Growth Management Act.”

This language is vague and fails to acknowledge that the proposed water line itself is prohibited by the GMA. The city of Bellingham and both associations filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the County Council on October 22, 2007. This motion was denied.

On November 1, 2007, both the city of Bellingham and the Y-Squalicum Water and Squalicum Valley Community Associations filed an appeal in the Superior Court of the State of Washington for Whatcom County. The initial hearing will be held on Friday, January 18, 2007. §


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