Posted: May 31, 2011 2:32:09 PM PDT
Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike is hosting a June 1 “listening session,” inviting the Bellingham community to help identify the scope of environmental review for SSA Marine’s proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point.
Pike said his aim is to continue community dialogue and prepare for formal environmental review, which will be conducted by county, state and federal officials once SSA applies for permits.
The meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 1 in the large courtroom at Bellingham Municipal Court, 2014 C Street. Pike said that he expects a large turnout and asks participants to be patient and help contribute to a civil, respectful dialogue.
He said he is hosting this meeting to provide area residents a preliminary chance to identify impacts that should be studied during future environmental review of the proposed project.
Jean Melious, local land use attorney and university faculty member, will help frame the discussion by providing a brief overview of the process and categories of issues that are typically addressed during environmental review.
“These processes are intended to help public officials make decisions that are based on understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore and enhance the environment,” Melious said, adding that the more specific people can be in their comments about environmental impacts and possible alternatives, the more helpful they will be in shaping the process.
Pike said comments collected will be provided to the appropriate regulatory agencies to support a triple-bottom-line approach to reviewing the proposal, considering its environmental, social and economic impacts. While Pike says he is encouraging community dialog, he emphasizes that the City government does not have regulatory authority over the proposed project.
City Council requests scope include Bellingham
The Bellingham City Council last week delivered a statement to Whatcom County and federal officials, noting that the City Council believes “that the proposed expansion of the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point will have significant consequences for the community of Bellingham.” The letter urges officials to ensure that the scope of the EIS include assessment of increased cargo rail traffic passing through Bellingham.
“The Mayor and City Council are in firm agreement that the scope of any EIS should include the entire transit corridor throughout community and not just the proposed terminal’s rural site in Whatcom County,” the letter, signed by Council President Stan Snapp on behalf of the City Council, states.
Mayor Dan Pike, 360-778-8100
Bellingham City Council President Stan Snapp, 360-778-8200