BELLINGHAM - The city is moving ahead on the purchase of 33 acres of real estate for stormwater facilities and wetlands mitigation that would help to speed up development along West Bakerview Road west of Northwest Avenue.
If all goes as planned, the city would recover most of the $1.85 million cost of the land and the additional millions that likely will be needed to design and build stormwater control facilities and wetlands mitigation that environmental regulations require for new developments, Public Works Director Ted Carlson said.
Private developers who build on surrounding real estate would pay fees to the city to cover their share of the costs, Carlson said. He added that some of the cost will be on the city's tab, since the city is also required to provide stormwater control and wetlands mitigation as it builds new streets in the area.
Among the properties that could take advantage of the stormwater and wetlands facilities on the new acreage is the land across from the Bakerview Fred Meyer store, where Costco is studying the possibility of a bigger, new Bellingham store. But city officials have said they need to do these projects with or without Costco.
"This is really an effort to maximize the development potential in that area," Carlson said.
City Council approved the land purchase Monday, May 20, after a closed-door session that state open meetings law allows for real estate deals.
The seller is Mersey LLC, a Skagit County company headed by Rob Janicki.
The land is in two parcels of 13 and 20 acres. Carlson said the real estate sale is now getting final study before an Aug. 15, 2013, closing deadline.
If the deal is completed, Carlson said the city would expect to build the stormwater control facilities in 2014. Plans for construction of new wetlands to compensate for losses from new streets and buildings are not so far along.