Record of Proceeding of the Bellingham, WA Planning and Development Commission, 02/20/97


THURSDAY 07:00 P.M. FEBRUARY 20, 1997


The regular session of the Planning Commission was called to order by Nick Zaferatos, Chairperson.


Commission Members: Fred Wagner, Nick Zaferatos, Travis Holland, Michael Kohl

Commission Members Absent: Carol Salisbury, Judith Wiseman, Mary Passmore

Planning Staff Members
Patricia Decker, Director,
Chris Spens, Senior Planner
Marilyn Vogel, Planner
Jackie Lynch, Planner
Kathy Bell, Planner,
Dawn Sturwold, City Attorney
Susan Larssen, Recording Secretary
Patty Jameson, Transcribing Secretary

Western Washington University Neighborhood Plan Update:
Changes to the WWU Neighborhood. This meeting only includes a brief presentation of the Draft Comprehensive Master Plan for WWU.


Jackie Lynch confirmed that the Planning Commission had received copies of the Draft Master Plan. She noted that she also has copies of their Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statements available if the Commissioners would like a copy. She summarized that the plan involves expansions into the Happy Valley and Sehome neighborhoods. She next reviewed phone calls received from property owners, which included questions about the new boundary. WWU wants to take my property, what effect will this have on traffic and parking on and off campus, and what is the status of the 21st Street Connector. She said staff also has questions, such as should they institute a Institutional Master Plan, as they did for St. Joseph’s Hospital, how will development be reviewed in areas acquired by WWU, and how should the City and the Neighbors interact, especially after the planning process is over. She said they need more information on parking and how rate structures determine parking off campus and financing of parking facilities on campus, how will WWU address bike and pedestrian constraints, and the relationship between the Transit Authority and WWU and is it permanent and on-going, and are their other park and rides that could be used.

Rick Benner, WWU, Manager of Facilities and Master Planning; talked about the process they have gone through to date and are going through from now to the future. The process started back in 1990. He reviewed, in detail, the time line which he passed out. He noted that of the approximately 600 notification cards mailed out in 1991; more than 150 respondents requested copies and expressed a willingness to participate in the plan. He said the Draft and Final EIS and the EIS Addendum, as well as the draft Comprehensive Plan, are all available at Wilson Library, the Bellingham and Fairhaven Libraries, at the Planning and Community Development Department, and at the Facilities and Master Planning Office at the Physical Plant at WWU. The Budget is available for review at Wilson Library.

Nick Zaferatos said this is a unique type of plan that the Planning Commission is involved with in that the WWU property is state property. He understood that cities do not have jurisdiction over that property, but that GMA calls for coordination with the state planning process.

Jackie Lynch responded that GMA requires state agencies to conform with approved comprehensive plans from municipalities. That allows the City of Bellingham to have a certain amount of input into master plans that universities are working on. Also, WWU is requesting that there be changes to the Western Neighborhood Plan boundary, which has significant impacts to the City and to WWU.

Patricia Decker added that under the state law and under the City’s Comprehensive Plan, WWU’s plan will need to be consistent with our adopted plan and consistent with our zoning. The process that we will go through is one where we will look at WWU’s proposals and WWU’s proposed campus boundary. They will then have to determine what the best process will be to deal with changes over time. She referred back to Jackie Lynch’s list of questions that the City does not have answers for yet, which are issues such as how do we address property that isn’t owned by WWU at this time, but that they would like to have included in a campus boundary so that they can be eligible to purchase property in the future and what happens to that property in the mean time. Then, what happens after WWU purchases that property, in terms of how to they make changes in a way that involves surrounding and affected property owners and other residents in the City. In summary, there are a number of questions that relate to what process will be used.

Nick Zaferatos said it is not dissimilar from the UGA process.

Patricia Decker said the campus planners used the same analogy, but it is different in that all of this property is inside the City of Bellingham; whereas the UGA involves property outside the City of Bellingham. There is state law about annexing properties to cities. The law about how you add property to a university is not yet known entirely to this department. The campus planning process involves different property owners from the university. It is actually more similar to the process the Port uses when they acquire property around the airport, for example; or the process that the City used with St. Joseph’s Hospital in the Institutional Master Plan.

Robert Bruce, Architect for WWU on this project, addressed the objectives of the Master Plan. He first referred to the excerpt in the packet from the Master Plan on Guiding Principals. He said that is the essence of the project. To get up to speed quickly, he suggested looking at their Conceptual Plan. He reviewed this Plan, which identifies all the elements, goals and objectives that is driving the changes. The major part of the Plan is shown at the bottom of the Plan, “to develop 21st Street in a formal entry drive, and realign South College Drive.” They are realigning roads, reuse and acquire open space, based on highest and best use. They have shortage in play fields and they can’t afford to buy additional property, so the best way to do that is to use what they have to its highest potential. In that, they reclaim Valley Green, which provides easy access to parking, enlarges the scale of campus, brings vehicular access closer to the core of campus, which includes Whatcom Transit Authority. It makes WWU accessible. The other issue is to move Administrative Services to the campus front door. Currently, several functions are still back in Old Main, which is off a service road. They plan to remove several temporary buildings and relocate those functions. They plan to downsize the service road. They will be moving functions to the periphery of campus. They plan to develop the north entry. Right now Nash and Mathes Hall front an existing neighborhood. They need improve that as a visitor and pedestrian entrance, where they can provide parking and improve the visual streetscape. He moved on the removal of High Street. This is a city street which bisects their campus. This is a problem. They would like to reclaim that as part of the campus core and bring in Whatcom Transit to increase ridership. They would like to remove the current gutters and sidewalks. Next on the south end of High Street, where they have a vehicle turnaround and temporary buildings. They would like to take those down and create an entrance to campus. They would next like to improve the street scene along Highland Drive. The development of the 21st/Hill Street Connector is a by product of cottage meetings and public hearings. This is to address Hill Street, which comes down and intersects 21st Street. To realign that they would need to acquire two pieces of property, which are now single family residences. This would allow them to realign the road and reduce its height, which would reduce the noise, light, and glare. Finally, they need to improve the bypass road off of 21st Street for parking and clearing of vegetation.

More information will be presented on this item at next month’s regular Planning Commission meeting (on March 20, 1997).

This is a digital copy of an original document located at Bellingham’s City Hall. The City of Bellingham specifically disclaims any responsibility or liability for the contents of this document. The City of Bellingham does not verify the correctness, accuracy, or validity of the information appearing in this document.

Return to Public Good’s Western Washington University page


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