Port, city release preliminary waterfront master plan

By Isaac Bonnell

The waterfront redevelopment project took another step forward this month when the Port of Bellingham and City of Bellingham released a preliminary draft master plan of the 220-acre project.

The preliminary plan comes on the heels of another milestone that was reached this month: the release of the finalized environmental impact statement (EIS), which is more than 2,500 pages and took three years to complete. This document outlines all the potential environmental impacts of redeveloping the site.

The preliminary draft master plan outlines the vision of the redevelopment project and specifies a street grid, the location of parks, building heights and project phasing over the next 30 to 50 years.

“Redeveloping Bellingham’s waterfront is a community priority,” said Mayor Dan Pike in a press release. “Years of public process and hard work have produced a draft plan that is based on the vision and principles of the Waterfront Futures Group and yet reflects the diversity of perspectives we’ve heard from the community.”

The Waterfront Advisory Group will be hosting an open house at 6 p.m. Aug. 11, at the port offices to discuss the preliminary plan and answer questions from the community.

The document is designed to be adopted by the city as a sub-area plan, similar to the Old Town and Samish Way urban village plans the city has adopted in recent years. In September, the port will submit the plan to the city’s planning department, which will launch a review process that will include public hearings before the planning commission and City Council.

The master plan is on track to get final approval from the City Council and the port commission by the end of the year, said Mike Stoner, port environmental director.

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