Saturday, June 02, 2012

Chuckanut Ridge compromise, like I suggested years ago

Recent article in Bellingham Herald says that Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville has proposed a small fairly dense neighborhood be built in part of the Chuckanut Ridge area. That's similar to the idea I came up with way back in 2005 during the heyday of the Chuckanut Ridge controversy.

Back then, the land was in private hands and developers were proposing a subdivision of over 700 homes to be built. Bellingham's open space advocates were outraged fearing the loss of that forest. They were suggesting the development be stopped.

Stopping that development which was on private land would have been a hard nut to crack. The city could buy the land, but I think the price tag was around $18 million. Quite a sum. It would deplete city funds which might have been better used for things like parks and trails in other more "park starved" areas of town; like, for instance, the Cordota Neighborhood.

Here's the compromise I suggested in my 2005 blog entry.

Build a few high rises in one corner of the property and leave the remainder as open space. That would be my kind of solution. Encourage non family and non car oriented folks who can live in small units. Provide bus service. Cluster the housing into mostly high rises in one corner of the land and preserve much of the remainder for open space.

Then the land cost could be justified and much of the forest could still be preserved.

Well, since then, 2008 came along and the real estate market crashed, nationally at least. Horizon Bank, which was heavily invested in that land went belly up and the price came down.

Eventually the city bought at a much lower price than was being ask before 2008 so the forest remains. Still, the city had to borrow some money from it's Greenway's trust fund to cover all the cost. In the long run, this could jeopardize green space in other parts of town, plus there may be some legal questions about using the money in that way over the long haul.

Basically it means the city needs to come up with some money to pay back the fund, thus this proposal to sell off some of that land for a fairly compact development. Most of the land could still remain forest while the city pays back some of the cost of the original purchase, thus shoring up city funds again.

Not a bad idea.

Wow! was 2005 7 years ago? Seems like it was just yesterday.

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