April 2001 STATUS REPORT - BIRCH BAY COMMUNITY PLANNING
In early 1999, the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce initiated two efforts to assist the Birch Bay Community in planning for the future.The two projects are:
Birch Bay Economic Development Action Plan
Birch Bay Shoreline Enhancement Project
In addition to this Chamber sponsored work there is another project in progress which has direct benefit to Birch Bay: The Coast Millennium Trail.The following is a brief description of each of these projects as well as a progress report on the work being accomplished.
1.Birch Bay Community Plan "A 2020 Look to the Future"
Description: In September 2000 the Birch Bay Economic Development Action Plan was published. The plan was the result of a year?s work by the citizen-based Birch Bay Planning & Development Group with facilitation and funding by the Port of Bellingham.One of the primary recommendations of this Plan was that the community goes through a more comprehensive planning process.That process kicked of on January 27, 2001 to a crowd of some 300 Birch Bay property owners and residents.
Result: The Birch Bay Community Plan that will be the major input to Whatcom County's Comprehensive Plan. The Plan was adopted Sept. 28, 2004. Process: The Birch Bay community has been divided up into 10 neighborhoods to assure the widest possible citizen participation. To date, over 400 people have attended meetings to identify issues, concerns and opportunities and to elect two representatives and an alternate to an overall Steering Committee.The Steering Committee has met three times to date, elected its chair in the person of Meg Grable and continues to organize itself into a cohesive and civil planning group to consider all points of view.The Community Plan will consist of the following elements:
1.Land Use and Housing6.Utilities
2.Parks and Recreation7.Economic Development
3.Shorelines and Critical Areas8.Public Education
4.Public Safety9.Governance and Financing
5.Transportation10. Community Involvement
Just over 5,000 invitation letters to participate in the process were mailed to property owners in the study area, 37% to Blaine/Birch Bay addresses and 37% to Canada. 538 property owners and residents have either attended Neighborhood meetings or indicated their desire to be kept informed of progress via E-mail or postal service. A number of public agencies and the private sector have committed to fund the Plan including Whatcom County who are also facilitating the process. To date about $104,220 has been raised of the estimated $127,000 needed for consultants, studies, report production and the costs of the public involvement process to produce a very thorough plan for managing Birch Bay's future growth.More Neighborhood meetings have been scheduled for May & June as part of accomplishing a November goal for completion of the process.Further information can be obtained by
2.Birch Bay Shoreline Enhancement Project
Description: The project is a revisit of two portions of Whatcom County's 1976 Birch Bay Comprehensive Plan with more emphasis this time on the biological processes and habitat.
1.Wolf Bauer's 1975 Shore Resource Analysis with recommendations concerning the geohydraulic characteristics of the bay waters and shoreline. One of the key issues being studied is whether or not some of the concrete structures on the beach (groins) should or should not be removed.
2.The 1976 conceptual drawings for berm (beach dune) building and public promenade use along the Birch Bay Drive portion of the shoreline.
Result: A Plan to restore, preserve and enhance the Birch Bay shoreline compatible with natural processes.
Process: The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZM) grant is the result of a proposal to enhance public protection and usage of the Birch Bay shoreline, especially along the Drive, made in Spring 1998. There is a Technical Workgroup made up of coastal geohydraulic consultants; experts from the State Departments of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, and Natural Resources; representatives from Whatcom County Departments of Public Works, and Planning and Development; and chaired by Barry Wenger of Ecology. They began work in March 2000 to determine the opportunities and constraints for the shoreline. Under the leadership of Birch Bay resident, the senior Nick Jerns, a Citizen's Advisory Committee is working concurrently with the Technical Workgroup and design consultant Jim Zervas, Zervas Group Architects, to craft a Plan by July 2001. Draft recommendations will be presented to the community in June or July 2001.
Then What? Besides becoming a key part of the overall Birch Bay Community Plan, the intention is to pursue further grants for engineering drawings to implement selected shoreline projects. Both long- & short-term funding sources will be sought to start work on 2002.
3.Coast Millennium Trail
Description: Implement Phase I of a 3-Phase program for a trail corridor from Pt. Roberts, WA through the lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada and ending in Skagit County, WA.The project emphasizes bicycle travel but also provides for pedestrian and equestrian use.Phase I is a $2,410,000 Transportation Enhancement Program project with 50% funding from the Federal Government. Five of the 15 site-specific improvements are within the Birch Bay/Blaine area:
>Pedestrian enhancements through Birch Bay State Park >Trail construction in certain areas of Semiahmoo and Birch Bay >Providing a link between Drayton Harbor Rd. and Old Drayton Harbor >Dock enhancements for the MV Plover foot ferry >Drayton Harbor Road improvements and bridge construction over California Creek Result: Sixty miles of a scenic, safe, multi-use trail of statewide significance.
Process: The Coast Millennium Trail (CMT) planning committee is in the process of defining specific routing details for Phase I.Pedestrian enhancements in Birch Bay State Park may require boardwalks over wetland areas.Trillium Corporation plans to donate a trail easement connecting Birch Bay to Semiahmoo Parkway and will assist with connecting Drayton Harbor Road to Semiahmoo Spit, possibly via Old Drayton Harbor Road trail.The CMT would benefit from reduced car traffic on scenic Drayton Harbor Road by building a through connection on Lincoln Road.Signs for a temporary route should be up by September 2001, and Phase I project constructed by 2003, with more phases to follow.