Section of Bellingham waterfront could have buildings instead of rec area

The Bellingham waterfront on Sept. 19, 2013.
The Bellingham waterfront on Sept. 19, 2013. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

The Department of Ecology could soon decide if a section of shoreline in downtown Bellingham’s Waterfront District may be opened up for building options other than recreational use.

The section of land in question, known as the log pond, runs along the central portion of a 237-acre waterfront property formerly occupied by a Georgia-Pacific Corp. pulp and paper mill. The Port of Bellingham owns the property and will spend the next several years cleaning up pollution on the site and working with private developers to implement a coordinated district plan it created with the city.

Original plans called for a recreational area along the log pond shore, but the city of Bellingham amended its shoreline plan in December 2013 to change that area’s zoning to shoreline mixed use, which allows for businesses or industries not requiring a waterfront.

Offices, storage, public buildings, restaurants, bars and other options are among the uses that might be allowed by the underlying industrial zone for that area, all depending on development plans that have yet to be drawn up.

The land still could be used for recreation like pedestrian walkways and trails, and a required 50-foot buffer between the water and development would remain in place, said Steve Sundin, a city planner.

Residential uses, like apartments, hotels, motels or bed and breakfasts are not allowed in that zone of the waterfront.

Ecology will take comments on the amendment through Nov. 17. Comments should be addressed to Chad Yunge, Department of Ecology, Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program, 1440 10th St., Suite 102, Bellingham, WA 98225, or email chad.yunge@ecy.wa.gov or call 360-715-5206.


To read the full waterfront plan prepared by city and port staff, click here.