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Special Committee of the Whole of the Whatcom County Council
January 8 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Keep an eye on your freedom! Attend this committee meeting if you can!
Perry Eskridge writes,
It is late on Sunday night and I have just received a string of e-mails concerning a Special Committee of the Whole of the Whatcom County Council. The committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. in the Whatcom County Council Chambers, 311 Grand Street, Bellingham.
You may recall a little court case named Hirst v. Whatcom County. That case resulted in the County Council placing a moratorium on new exempt wells in Whatcom County, a moratorium that the County Council refused to lift until there was a “legislative fix.” It was a very long and difficult 18 months for rural residents.
The legislative fix arrived last year. The legislation directed the Planning Units in most watershed areas, including Whatcom (Planning Area 1), to review future demand for private wells and develop a plan for mitigating the “consumptive use” of those wells in the future.
The REALTORS®, together with the BIAWC government affairs director, represented the Land Development Caucus on the Planning Unit through these proceedings for nearly four years including this last year as we worked on the watershed plan required under the “Hirst Fix Legislation.” There is a very large question concerning whether the required update will be completed by February 1 and adopted by the County Council. The sticking points are withdrawal limits (state law allows 3,000 gallons per day (average) and the County is pushing for ~500 gpd), metering of private wells (a majority of the planning unit rejected the notion as the law does not require it; the County, City of Bellingham and the First Nations are demanding it), and fees (the planning unit is asking the fee to remain at $500; County and City of Bellingham representative are advocating for nearly $25,000). I think you see the problem. As an aside, neither of these “sticking points” are required to addressed in the watershed plan – they are optional.
For perspective, permit exempt well use for domestic purposes represents approx. three-quarters of 1% (.0075%) of water use in Whatcom County!
Here is the point of this e-mail (and why the REALTORS® are involved in politics). Discussing this situation with several council members, the following sentiment has been publicly expressed on several occasions and seems to be the new path for some council members (paraphrased):
Whatcom County residents are not really “free” any longer. They have long ago given the council permission to regulate almost every aspect of their property, including zoning, permitting, environmental regulations, fees, fines, and other monetary payments. Whatcom County residents are not free, they are regulated in every aspect of their lives, so what is the harm in just giving up with respect to the water issue?
I wish I could say that this was limited to real estate, but at a meeting of industry leaders this past week, the topic of discussion was how several of them have been singled out during special council meetings and asked, in essence, why they continue to fight the inevitable.
I’d like to close this e-mail with a quote from one of my favorite founding fathers:
“A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to his wife. There are those in the county who are relying on lost liberties. For this reason, we need to endeavor to ensure that such losses are not forever, and so we advocate for our clients, we advocate for private property rights, we advocate for more freedom not less!
If this concerns you, you might want to attend the meeting on Tuesday. I will be in attendance and, immediately following the meeting, will be available to our members for questions concerning the WRIA 1 process and how it appears to have gone so horribly wrong. Of course, you are always free to e-mail or phone with questions – I am happy to provide information.