Samish Way to lose two lanes of traffic if city passes plan

By Cooper Campbell

The Urban Village Subarea Plan for Samish Way was a topic of frequent, and at times, heated discussion at the Bellingham City Council meeting on May 6. Residents from the Sehome, York and surrounding neighborhoods expressed both criticism and praise for the plan

The main concerns included height restrictions on new construction and traffic.

Shared at Monday’s meeting, updates to the plan the proposed removal of one northbound and one southbound lane of Samish Way to accommodate on-street parking.

Matthew Buckmaster, a resident of the Sehome neighborhood, said he was concerned about adding more residents to the area while removing lanes of traffic. He said traffic is already bad in the area.

“Getting up and down Bill McDonald first thing in the morning, at three o’clock in the afternoon, is I mean, it rivals Sunset or Meridian at five o’clock,” Buckmaster said.

Eva and Jose Chazo, also residents of the Sehome neighborhood, echoed Buckmaster’s concerns.

“The amount of density that’s going to be added to that on top of taking away a lane or two… is unheard of,” Jose said.

Eva said the height restriction on new buildings in the urban village was too generous. The height limit for development in the “core mixed use area” of the urban village is 75 feet, according to city documents.

Addressing the council, Eva said, “You will be impacting the people in that neighborhood and they will not see the sun again.”

Other community members spoke in favor of the plan. Anne Macrie of the York neighborhood expressed enthusiastic support for the plan.

“This is such an excellent example of neighborhood engagement, community buy-in and putting growth and development in the appropriate place,” Macrie said.

The plan for Samish Way includes various changes to facilitate the development of an “urban village.” The Samish Way urban village would provide commercial, residential and service uses, according to the plan documents available from the City of Bellingham. This would mean new development including apartments and condos.

“The idea behind this urban village came about as a way of protecting the single-family neighborhoods, ” City Council member Terry Bornemann said,

The Samish Way plan primarily focuses on development in the “core” area, which extends from the end of Bill McDonald Parkway to Abbott Street.

The council also approved Byron Manering’s appointment to the Whatcom County Commission on Sexual and Domestic Violence. Manering is executive director of Brigid Collins Family Support Center, a non-profit that seeks to end child abuse, according to the organization’s website.

The council also voted unanimously to honor the Sikh community in Bellingham during the month of April.

“Bellingham prides itself on being a City where people of all faiths and cultures are welcomed and respected,” the resolution said.Meeting notes and more information can be found at the City of Bellingham website.

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