Whatcom Planning Commission applicants come with experience

Two applicants have stepped forward to fill a vacancy on the Whatcom County Planning Commission.

One of the applicants, Ferndale geologist and lawyer Michael Bersch, applied for the same position seven months ago but Ferndale Assistant City Administrator Sam Taylor was named to the post. Taylor has since stepped down after taking a job out of state.

Bersch is the husband of Carol Bersch, Ferndale City Council member and one of five candidates for Ferndale mayor.

The second applicant, Kelvin Barton of Birch Bay, previously worked on an update to Everett’s long-range planning document, called the comprehensive plan, according to his resumé. The Planning Commission will prepare Whatcom County’s version of that same document in the coming year. Barton has 34 years of experience in local government, and he retired in 2011.

“I’ve done a fair amount of this for my career, and I really enjoyed the work,” Barton said, when asked why he applied to be on the commission.

Bersch, who according to his resumé has a Ph.D. in geology and is a licensed attorney in Washington and Alabama, said he wouldn’t come into the Planning Commission with an agenda.

“I’m purely volunteering to be a member of the commission. ... I sort of figure I’ve got a lot of varied experience,” Bersch said.

The Planning Commission makes recommendations to the County Council on decisions about development and allowed uses on land in the unincorporated county.

Council is scheduled to choose the next planning commissioner on Tuesday, June 9. The appointee’s term will end in January 2018.