Four days are set aside for court-like presentations of attorneys, all in remote format

Update: Hearing canceled day before starting

Late Tuesday, Oct. 20, the hearings that were scheduled on the Cedarbrook proposal were canceled.
Lynden Planning Director Heidi Gudde said in an email to the Tribune that the Planning Department suggested the Planning Commission delay the consolidated hearings.
She said the Planning Department does not believe there have been errors in its review or processing of the application or permits for the Cedarbrook project. 
“However, the Planning Department would like to revise, modify or consider withdrawing the March 20, 2020, Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance” for the Cedarbrook project. And the department will continue its evaluation of the Cedarbrook Master Planned Residential Development permit and Shoreline Substantial Development permit, and its SEPA review for additional analysis, Gudde said

LYNDEN ­— More than a year into the application process with the city, the controversial Cedarbrook housing proposal comes to an appeal and more before the Lynden Planning Commission starting this week.

Four evenings — Oct. 21, 22 and 29, and Nov. 10 — have been set aside, with the 6:30 p.m. meetings being conducted remote, adding another complicating layer.

Neighbors have organized in sharp opposition to the idea of adding seven new dwelling units on about 1.4 acres, plus buffer, near city trail and Fishtrap Creek. They have written various letters to be printed in the Tribune on this topic in recent months.

Overall, it is a proposal to divide 3.05 acres into nine residential lots at the cedar-shaded end of East Cedar Drive. The ongoing zoning in the entire area continues to be RS-100, allowing about four dwellings per acre, although the Planned Residential Development mechanism allows housing to be clustered more tightly together to gain more open space. 

It is a project brought by Cedarbrook Partners, consisting of Shane Bajema, living on the property at 131 E. Cedar, and Lynden developer Bob Libolt.

Leading up to this point, attorneys have been hired to represent the city Planning Department and the (Planning Commisssion itself?), as well as by Cedar Drive neighbors in bringing their challenge. The proceedings may have the feel of a court case, but before a panel of ///// citizen commissioners. 

It’s really a package of three issues to be sorted out:

  •    appeal of the Planning Department’s mitgated determination of non-significance (MDNS) on the project under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), to be heard Oct. 21.
  •    (issuance of the Planned Residential Development (PRD) permit.)
  •    (issuance of the Shoreline Substantial Development permit.)

Because of restrictions on in-person meetings due to COVID, the hearings will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams. The city says in a legal notice that this format “will allow participants to hear proceedings, see shared screens, and provide testimony.” A link gives a short tutorial on the use of Microsoft Teams.

Participants may also join in via phone line, the city says.

However, an effort to conduct a Planning Commission meeting remotely in August produced complaints from some citizen participants.

The plan is for:

  •    Oct. 21 to be the SEPA appeal hearing.
  •    Oct. 22 to be for presentation of the project itself (for the PRD decision? issuance of the PRD permit?) 
  •    Oct. 29 to be for public comment and attorney closings.

The city will allow one-on-one comment to the chair of the commission. A computer in the room will broadcast the comments live to everyone else signed into the Teams meeting. 

Those who sign up to speak will be invited into the City Hall Annex building, 205 Fourth St., only when it is their assigned time. People can sign up to speak in this way by contacting the Planning Department at 360-354-5532.

  •    Nov. 10 to be for Planning Commission deliberations and decision.

The city further states that for those unable to do the virtual connection from their home or who are concerned about being able to hear the proceedings via computer or phone, viewing rooms will  be provided at City Hall, 300 Fourth St. No more than five people may be in each room, and these do not allow for spoken testimony to be given. To request a spot, call the Planning Department at 360-354-5532. 

Recordings of each day of the hearing may be requested for download. A written transcript of the hearing will be made available after it is all done.

Written comments will be accepted until Nov. 2.