If water is provided to Lynden and surrounding water associations, what safeguards are there to prevent unforeseen consequences?
If Lynden expands, it will expand into agricultural lands.
I'm not going to talk about expansion of urban areas in this blog post, other than to let you know that this topic is hot on the burner of Whatcom County and the cities.
- You might consider reading the latest Population and Employment Projections and Urban Growth Area Allocations.
- You may want to consider attending the upcoming meeting of city and county elected officials on September 3rd in Ferndale (3:00 p.m.)
- And, if you have the stomach to attend a De-Planning Commission meeting, you might want to show up in the Northwest Annex portable on September 12th.
If water is extended to areas outside of the cities, what is the potential that the 1,787 existing development rights in lands zoned Agriculture in Whatcom County would get developed?
These rights were created through various "interpretations" of agricultural zoning over the years. For those of you around during that time, you might recall:
- The "more intensive agriculture exemption". This exemption allowed the creation of parcels less than 40 acres in size if it facilitated more intensive agriculture. The Hearing Examiner (Bobbink) interpreted the exemption to allow, but not require, more intensive farming on both parcels. ("Breaking Up the Farm, Zoning rules erode farm protections". Bellingham Herald, April 23, 2000)
- The "600 foot frontage exemption". This exemption allowed land divisions of any size as long as it had 600 feet of frontage on a public road.
- The "retiring farmer exemption". If the "retiring farmer" resided on their property for five years, they could keep the farmstead and sell the farm. Nothing says the farmer had to be a certain age, so when someone "retired" to work at Intalco, they were allowed to divide the land.
- The "gift exemption". If you "gifted" your land to a family member, you didn't have to comply with county land division regulations.
|Bajema Property - yellow lines are parcel lines|
But, this example is just the tip of the iceberg. Whatcom County has just completed an updated Agricultural Land Cover Analysis and Build-out Analysis. I got on the Department of Health's website and mapped out three of the water associations I had heard were part of the need for a clean water supply. I then overlaid those water associations on the Agricultural Land Cover Analysis and Build-out Analysis.
The map below shows that these water associations are in prime farmland area.
|AG Land Cover Analysis - May 13, 2013|
|Potential Build- Source: Whatcom County GIS|
Lynden - WDOE Memorandum of Agreement
WDOE "White Paper" on Lynden Water Rights and Supply Options
North Whatcom County Regional Source Feasibility Study
Coordinated Water System Plan (2006) Map