In the public meeting on the Right of Way for the Birch Bay Drive Pedestrian Facility held on March 26th, County Road Engineer Joseph Rutan briefed the Whatcom County Council, Public Works, Health, and Safety Committee on the surveying and right of way research that has been ongoing in Birch Bay.
Mr. Rutan told the Committee, and the 40 or so residents and interested parties who attended, that the County had gone back and searched records since 1884 and that what we know as Birch Bay Drive is a 60′ Right of Way. He continued and assured the people present, as well as the Committee, that the new proposed road would be between 35 and 40 feet wide, not 60 feet as some had feared and nearly all work was planned to be to the west (the Bay side). Additionally, the speed would remain at 25 miles per hour. In nearly all cases, the Right of Way does not extend into peoples yards, but does extend into Birch Bay, especially in the areas north of Harborview Road that has suffered considerable damage.
When asked by the Committee if any condemnation was planned, Mr. Rutan said there were no plans for the taking of anyones property using condemnation, and if property needed to be acquired, it would be negotiated with the land owner(s). The Committee made it clear to all present that they would not, either as the Committee, or in their Whatcom County Councilperson role, vote for any Condemnation.
When members of the public were permitted to speak, a number of objections were raised, including flooding fears, loss of beach on the north end of Birch Bay. Resident Barney Yorkston, suggested that the project be done, but that there basically be no improvements beyond the Resort Commercial zone which ends (approximately) at the Eagles Roost Restaurant Many speakers did express reservation about the project as a whole, which was not lost on the Committee members. The Committee asked those in opposition to the project to submit letters or emails to them describing their fears or opposition, which was underscored by Executive Louws.
This was the first in what will be a series of meetings held on this project with the next one hoped to be held before the Committee in April and as this is a Birch Bay Community Project, it is important that residents, property owners, and the business community participate in this project.
If you would like to write the Whatcom County Council regarding this project, here is information that you need to be aware of:
- The Whatcom County Council Office will not open any e-mail messages that do not have a subject. Please make your subject as specific as possible to help us determine the validity of e-mails. (Suggested Subject – Birch Bay Drive & Pedestrian Facility)
- The Council Office cannot guarantee that all e-mail messages received will be opened, or that all messages sent will be received. If your correspondence is urgent, please hand deliver the document to the Council Office. (Whatcom County Council, 311 Grand Avenue, Suite 105, Bellingham, Washington 98225)
- All e-mail messages received are public record and will be made available for public review in the Council Office files.
- You may email Councilmembers as a group at firstname.lastname@example.org or individually at their e-mail addresses (Available on Council Website, Click Here). If you email your comments to the councilmembers individually, also copy the email to the Council e-mail address so your comments are included in the official record.