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Letters for the week of June 21, 2017

Patterns of corporate assault

Congress and corporations have engineered a system that makes many citizens feel like losers.
Businesses building stock portfolios insist that stocks take precedence over workers. Good business practice forces them to cut costs (employment) and use computerized robotics and mergers “for efficiency.”
Congress lifted the ban on American crude oil export. For 40 years citizens were told U.S. production was for security from foreign market control. Now petroleum companies want to export “fracked” crude to China to be refined and shipped back for additives at increased prices. Their stock value is more important than protecting most West Coast petroleum worker jobs. Their “innovation” will cost good-paying jobs, tax base and community support.
Large real estate corporations buy up housing for investment. Average home buyers cannot afford the competitive prices, causing cuts in consumer buying of furnishings and goods; affecting jobs in manufacturing and sales. They purchase large tracts of land for dubious projects to cover their investment regardless of water usage that limits house building site water wells due to minimum flow issues. Will the Goldman Sachs water purchase limit our wells further? Railroads have put in infrastructure for non-existent projects and want their investments assured.
Could it be that the “Preserve Cherry Point and Jobs” signs were paid for by big money that does not have our interests at heart?

—Donna Starr, Blaine

Grandfathered an inch, takes a mile

Wildwood Resort on Lake Whatcom is planning further recreational development. Shoreline permits and a SEPA DNS are pending.
The SEPA project checklist is for a change of use for one building, adds 28 new boat slips to the 36 existing slips and includes 12 new Jet Ski and sailboat dock spaces. Additionally, the project is requesting more park model trailer sites in the shoreline setback area and the removal of a large gravel bar in the swimming area by dredging.
Wildwood Resort is a recreational and resort development dating back to the 1940s and pre-dating Whatcom County’s first zoning ordinance dated June 17, 1974. The parcel is mostly in Government Lot 3 with approximately 15 acres.
This facility historically charged a daily use fee for RV trailer sites and campsites that included access to Lake Whatcom waterfront for swimming and boating and was not subdivided. It also had a fueling dock with retail sales to the lake’s boating community.
The site was purchased in 2006. Nonconforming development status was granted on May 18, 2007, by Whatcom County Planning and Development Services, subject to a Hearing Examiner appeal process. It was determined that “private campgrounds are not listed as permitted or a conditional use within this zoning designation, therefore it is a prohibited use unless nonconformity can be granted.”
At the time, only the existing buildings on the site were considered in the determination, which showed how many camping and RV spaces were allowed to continue operation. This determination does not include any conditions for subdivision or for the marina and stated “new nonconforming uses shall not result in greater impacts upon surrounding properties than did the original nonconforming uses.”
Since that 2007 determination there has been substantial development of the site, including the creation of small lots for sale and replacing the RV spots with small cabins that are called Park Model Trailers. Some of the improvements fall under an umbrella of “expansion” of non-conforming uses while other uses required Shoreline permits or County permits. WCC 20.83.40
Many counties and cities do not allow expansion of nonconforming uses.
The current pending Wildwood Resort SEPA checklist has been given a Determination of Non-Significance and is open for public comments until July. Andrew Hicks is the county shoreline planner accepting comments for the SEPA review.

—Tani Sutley, Whatcom County

Stop the name-calling

Whatcom County Council does represent my values.
These include respect for Native American treaty rights, the state legislature’s Growth Management Act, and the Hirst decision of our state’s Supreme Court.
I am disheartened by the signs that state the Council does not represent “your” values, and those that label the Council “water tyrants” and “job killers.”
Name-calling is bullying. I find this offensive and unacceptable. All of us who live in Whatcom County are demeaned by these messages.
Will those who are responsible please stop? Find a better way to express your opinion.
Thank you to the Council for your dedication and perseverance in the face of such unwarranted vitriol.

—Virginia Watson, Bellingham

A widening ministry

Russell Sapeinza’s letter in last week’s Cascadia Weekly strikes a chord. Helping others as a means of carrying on Jesus’ work sounds more meaningful and fulfilling to humans than materialistic self-absorption.
Sixteen years ago, I became a Unitarian Universalist when I learned of their belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, as well as their deep commitment to justice, equity and compassion for people of all races and faiths.
I grew up in a Jewish household, where Sunday School taught us we were the “chosen people.” That never sat quite right with me, nor my parent’s comments about Christianity having nothing to do with Judaism. Wasn’t Christ a Jew?
Nineteenth-century author Louis Jacolliot suggested that Jesus may have traveled to India, where Krishna disciples gave him the name “Jezues,” meaning “pure essence” in Sanskrit. Jacolliot compared the accounts of the life of Bhagavan Krishna with that of Christ, Krishna being the god of compassion, tenderness and love in Hinduism. Like the Dalai Lama, Jesus believed the path to happiness lies in helping each other.
Sadly, certain religious beliefs preach that most things pleasurable will land you in hell for your “sins.” Making people feel guilty only breeds unhappiness and contempt for organized religion. Let’s preach happiness and joy by helping those less fortunate than us.

—Nancy Steele, Bellingham

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