Samish Neighborhood Association

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SNA Minutes 2013-01

Samish Neighborhood Association Meeting

January 8, 2013, Community Baptist Church

Meeting called to order by President Carpenter.

Board members present: Joe Carpenter, Tom Roehl, Steve Abell, Garey Vodopich, Dick Conoboy, Tim Wynn

Board members absent: Don Hale, David Gilbertson, Christopher Morrison, Suneeta Eisenberg (all excused)

Guests: David Bruner (church)

Public Comments: None

President’s Announcements: None

Old business:

Ÿ Meeting minutes from December 2012 were approved.

Ÿ Treasurer’s December and annual 2012 reports were approved: (see copy of calendar year 2012 report ATTACHMENT 1). We noted the impressive uptick in dues collection and membership. We’ve received notice that the $500 neighborhood grant from the city will be available again in 2013. The Treasurer will submit our application.

Ÿ Ambling University Development Group student housing project in Puget Neighborhood:

Board members Carpenter, Vodopich, Hale, Eisenberg, and Abell attended the public meeting at Cozier Elementary School on January 3. The overall audience tone at this meeting was negative, sometimes strongly so. Items of concern to current Puget and Samish residents included traffic, parking, drainage & runoff, trails & pedestrian traffic, and noise. There was also concern regarding a possible future sale of the property: would a change in ownership or management lead to a worsening of conditions? It would appear that Ambling sold a few of its properties (maybe about 20 out of 50 already built and occupied) in other parts of the country so this question is relevant.

There was also some confusion as to whether WWU had encouraged Ambling to build in Bellingham. The president of Ambling said at this meeting that he had been contacted by “an individual” at WWU, although he would not reveal the name. Joe received a note from Steve Swan, WWU-VP for University Relations, saying that Swan was unaware of who might have made the contact. Mr. Swan was a bit upset that Ambling was using WWU as a reference, and offered to talk with us at our next board meeting. Joe will invite Mr. Swan to the February meeting. There are no other Ambling properties in the Northwest. Most are in the East, and the closest are in California and South Dakota.

Kathy Bell, from the Bellingham Planning Department, detailed the process by which an application from Ambling can be approved. The only project approval required is from the Planning Director since the proper zoning is already in place. There is no legal requirement to formally accept public comment or get approval from either the Planning Commission or the City Council.

The board decided that even though this development is not within Samish, we have concern for Samish residents who live close enough to the development location to be impacted by it. On that basis, the board decided to support Puget and take our cue from the Puget Board as to what contribution they might need or want us to make. A joint meeting might be appropriate if they desire it. Joe will also invite Ambling to attend our general meeting in March.

Ÿ MNAC update: Joe will sign and deliver the letter (ATTACHMENT 2) stating our concerns with the revision to Bellingham Municipal Code that cuts off the direct unfiltered input MNAC currently has to the Planning Commission and City Council. It’s not clear what impact, if any, our letter will have – this may be a “done deal” – but we’ll send it anyway.

New business:

Ÿ Modification of by-laws: Joe will draft two additions, one to add a procedure for removal of officers (using text from other neighborhood’s by-laws), the second to include more monitoring and control over the treasurer’s activities and responsibilities. (This is not a reflection on Tim’s stewardship of the office – in fact he encouraged these changes.) These revisions must be communicated to the membership 30 days prior to the March general meeting so they can be voted on at the meeting.

Ÿ The March general meeting is set for Thursday, March 14, 7:00 PM, at the Elks Club on Samish Way. Joe will invite Mayor Linville and the new Bellingham Police Chief to speak. Habitat for Humanity of Whatcom County and Ambling Development will be invited to offer table displays. We received a letter from the city Parks Department concerning a new program they are offering to enhance the parks experience for city residents. We will invite them to speak also. We’ll also elect new officers. Tim advised that he would not run for another term as Treasurer. Abell will run to extend his term as Secretary. Joe and Tom are undecided. We may need to do another telephone campaign prior to this meeting to recruit new members and new board members.

Ÿ A change to our monthly meeting date from second Tuesday to second Thursday was discussed as maybe more compatible with everyone’s personal schedules. We’ll need approval from the church before we can make this change, and no decision was made. David Bruner (our church contact, present at this meeting) will need to confirm this for us.

Meeting adjourned.

Steve Abell


2 attachments


Annual Treasurer’s Report for 2012

Beginning Balance


Ending Balance


Beginning Balance 2012


Revenue – SNA dues (incl $50 cash from annual mtg)


Revenue – City grant


Revenue – misc donations


Revenue – Transfer from Petty Cash


Expenses – Newsletters (spring, fall)


Expense – Picnic


Expense – office (mailbox)


Expense – Mtg Room (some expenses deferred to 2013)


Expense – Licenses/registration


Expenses – Cash for Annual Mtg


Ending Balance


Petty Cash
Beginning Balance – MC cash card


expense – transferred to checking account


Total all Funds


Room Rental for Aug, Oct(?), Nov, Dec 2012


Pending Revenue
SNA Dues deposited not reflected on statement


Available Funds as of January 2013



131 paid members as of 09Oct2012



January 8, 2013

Bellingham City Council

210 Lottie Street

Bellingham, WA 98225

Dear Members of the City Council,

During the November meeting of MNAC, a vote was taken regarding proposed modification of MNAC BMC 2.33.040 – FUNCTIONS – MEETINGS AND MINUTES. We understand that this change, proposed by Mayor Linville, was approved at this meeting by a vote of 11-3 with 1 abstention. The Samish Neighborhood representative to MNAC, Mr. Dick Conoboy, voted to disapprove the proposal consistent with the opinion of our Board of Directors. After considerable discussion in our December board meeting, I wish to elaborate on our concern about this change in the scope of MNAC.

We are concerned that the change in the code may silence an important voice that the Planning Commission, and therefore the City Council, should hear. Current code grants MNAC the opportunity to formulate or review changes to the city’s Comprehensive Plan and to neighborhood plans, and to present recommendations to both the Mayor and the Planning Commission. The proposed revisions to the code would require MNAC to elect to perform this formulation/review process and then present their comments only to the Mayor for his/her consideration. This dissolves the unfiltered communication link between MNAC and the Planning Commission and City Council. It gives the Mayor, at his/her discretion, the power to decide what, if any, comments or recommendations from MNAC will be forwarded to the Planning Commission and City Council. We see this as a potential loss of significant neighborhood input into the planning process and loss of information that the city agencies need in order to give full consideration to changes in city and neighborhood plans.

It is not difficult to envision a situation in which MNAC opinion differs markedly from either the Mayor’s opinion or the Planning Commission’s position. This has, in fact, happened. The York Neighborhood cited recent (2005 and 2009) examples of conflicting recommendations in its letter to the Mayor dated November 13, 2012. From its letter:

“In both cases the Planning Commission rejected York’s proposals despite MNAC’s approval. But, City Council unanimously voted to approve our recommended change . . . we also think that without the MNAC review and recommendation, that the Council might have thought otherwise.”

A more recent example involving Samish Neighborhood occurred during the deliberations on the Padden Trails amendment and rezone requests. Both the Planning Department and Planning Commission approved these requests in spite of MNAC’s vote to reject. The Council finally rejected the Padden Trails proposal. We feel that MNAC’s input was an important part of reinforcing the overall public input into this process. Under the proposed revision of MNAC code, none of these amendment or rezone deliberations would have received official MNAC input had the Mayor chosen not to forward it.

We ask that as you consider an ordinance to alter MNAC’s scope that you preserve the ability of MNAC to provide direct, unfiltered (by the Mayor or anyone else) input into the city and neighborhood planning processes. This input can be an important neighborhood voice that deserves a right to be heard. Thank you for your consideration.


Joseph Carpenter, President

Samish Neighborhood Association

copies to:      Mayor Linville,  MNAC

[NOTE: (Jan 16) At the City Council meeting Jan 14 the ordinance to modify this MNAC code passed unanimously. See the minutes from Nov 2012 for a copy of the changed code.]

Posted 6 years, 1 month ago at 8:20 AM.

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