Certain complaints about neighbors go unresolved in Whatcom County

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 5, 2014 

Certain kinds of complaints from Whatcom County residents are slipping through cracks in the county's code enforcement system, officials say.

Neighborhood peace around Lake Whatcom has been disrupted because homeowners are renting their houses to vacationers. Landowners who have built a motocross track on their properties are disturbing their neighbors with noise and dust. A loophole in the county's limits on livestock allows people to keep hundreds of chickens in their yard.

The County Council will get a report from county Planning and Development Services on these and other problems with enforcement at a meeting of the council's Planning and Development Committee, 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 6, at the county courthouse, 311 Grand Ave., Bellingham.

Other issues the planning department can't properly address:

-- Rural and agricultural residents keeping broken-down vehicles and other junk on their properties.

-- Bees kept in residential areas make it unsafe for children to play in their own yards.

-- Coffee stands, taco trucks and other mobile vending units are unregulated.

-- Inadequate rules governing home businesses allow RV parks and long-haul trucking companies to operate from people's homes.

Executive Jack Louws said in his state of the county speech to council on April 22 that "increased code enforcement capabilities" was one of three items "we absolutely need to address" in the 2015-16 budget, which the executive and other staff are writing this year.

Other top priorities for funding in 2015-16 are a mental health court and a "water action plan" approved by council in March to address problems with pollution and water availability.

Reach Ralph Schwartz at 360-715-2289 or ralph.schwartz@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Politics blog at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhampolitics.

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