Coming to the Oil Trains on F Street: New Residential Development / Facebook post, Whatcom Hawk, Wendy Harris

 oil trains street9 hrs  October 18, 2015  Wendy Harris ACTION

This photo, which I took exiting the garage in my current residence, shows the site of proposed construction of a 4 story building with approximately 29 residential units, approximately 1,500 square feet of live/work and commercial uses, and 29 on-site parking spaces.

Six more parking spaces will be constructed on Astor Street. This will be built where you see the yellow building on the right. This is the old Kempler Sausage Building which is being demolished.

Of course, you see something else as well. An oil train is passing about a block away. What you do not see is the gas station between this new development and the trains. You also do not see the F street station, where work, noise, lights and fumes can be created all night long.

The developer held a meeting with neighbors about 9 month ago. The people in my building and the Lettered Streets Neighborhood showed up and objected. I showed up and raised my concerns about building so close to oil trains. The planner told me to wait before I submitted something in writing because there was no application submitted.

Then one day, without warning, we received a notice of an optional DNS. What is this? “Optional” means that the city exercised its option not to hold a public hearing on its determination that there would be no significant environmental impacts. That means a DNS was issued, right? That is not so clear. The SEPA notice states “The following conditions have been identified that may be used to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of the proposal: · Noise abatement and restrictions.” How does the city get away with saying “maybe we will do something generally involving this category”, and leaving things so murky and unclear that the public is unable to respond?

I think it is poor policy to build new construction so close to the oil trains and within the one mile blast zone. And I certainly think that higher development standards should apply, far beyond noise abatements. I am thinking of things like shatter proof windows, stronger building framing that will withstand a blast or intense heat. I am thinking of special air filters for the diesel fumes and the coal dust that finds its way into homes near the tracks.

The only hearing the public will be provided is on Tuesday, 3PM at city hall before the design review board. How can the review board analyze this project when the city has not even examined what, if any, upgraded standards should be applied in the blast zone, which may have an inpact on the building design?

I really see this as the time to take a stand on city development within the blast zone, and the best approach would certainly be no development within the blast zone. It is one thing to have injuries occur from oil trains that arrived after development, but when a city or county allows new construction in an area that is an known and serious safety hazards, how is this any different than the Oso slide? How is that any different than violating the CAO requirements for geologically hazardous areas, where you must design to a standard of safety and where than can not be achieved, not allow development to occur.

Read Wendy’s post on the Whatcom Hawk Facebook page here.

A hearing for the public will be provided is on Tuesday, 3PM at Bellingham City Hall. 

  City Hall, 210 Lottie Street Bellingham, WA

Below is City of Bellingham Planning staff contact information in case you prefer to write or call regarding this issue:

Planning and Development Commission

Planning and Community Development Department
210 Lottie Street
Bellingham, WA 98226
Phone: (360) 778-8300
Fax: (360) 778-8302
E-mail: planningcommission@cob.org
Map

Planning Division

Planning & Community Development Department
210 Lottie Street
Bellingham, WA 98225
Email: planning@cob.org
Phone: (360) 778-8300
Fax: (360) 778-8302
TTY: (360) 778-8382
Map

Director

Rick Sepler
Planning & Community Development Department
210 Lottie Street
Bellingham, WA 98225
Phone: (360) 778-8300

Community Development Division

Planning & Community Development Department
210 Lottie Street
Bellingham, WA 98225
Email: cd@cob.org
Phone: (360) 778-8300
Fax: (360) 778-8302
TTY: (360) 778-8382

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s