The site sought by PeaceHealth for a Lynden medical clinic wraps around the existing Kulshan Veterinary Hospital facility. (City of Lynden visual)

A 20,000-square- medical clinic is now envisioned

LYNDEN ­— Peace Health is submitting paperwork with the city to build a 20,000-square-foot medical clinic on property of (four to five acres) tucked around the Kulshan Veterinary Hospital at Benson and Badger roads.

At first, the application was for a Binding Site Plan, a tool for dividing property and phasing infrastructure, but action by the Lynden City Council changes the process, said Lynden Planning Director Heidi Gudde.

Now the project can go directly to the State Environmental Policy Act SEPA environmental review and the city Design Review Board rather than through the binding site plan process, she said.

Those reviews are expected to happen in August.

The council on Monday, July 6, approved a revision of the Medical Services Overlay zoning mechanism that was originally enacted in 2007. The development standards pertain to the needs of a hospital or large medical campus.

However, the city, at the request of PeaceHealth, scaled down the minimum lot size on which the overlay can be placed, from eight acres to four.

The code amendment allows smaller medical services projects that wish to locate on industrially zoned properties to expedite their process. COVID-19 restrictions had been crimping the timeline of the intended approval process for PeaceHealth.

On Monday, with no public comment submitted by phone, mail or email, the council’s vote on the change was unanimous — in session again remote by video or audio. It was the only substantial action of just a nine-minute meeting.

Because of the change of process, the Planning Department will be able to return the application that PeaceHealth had submitted for a binding site plan and move ahead toward environmental and design review instead, Gudde clarified.

It is all action on a mattter that especially Lynden City Council member Gary Bode had pressed for already in early 2018 — an urgent-care center serving the north Whatcom County area.

At the time, Bode hoped a satellite facility would alleviate long waits — “it takes six hours to get seen” — at the designated emergency and trauma center of PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham.

Paperwork submitted to the city show a property equally wrapped around the four-acre Kushan Veterinary site, with the new Peace Health facility at the crux midway on the property. Vegetative buffering would be required on the perimeter of the property, Gudde said.

Whatcom County Assessor’s Office documents show the subject property is 5 acres and owned by Expectant Enterprises LLC, mailing address 8800 Benson Rd., Lynden. The taxable assessed value is $474,804.

Secretary of State corporation registering shows Expectant Enterprises, formed in 2003, to have four governors who are or have been veterinarians with Kulshan: Gordon Plotts, W. David Hardman, Gale DeJong and Michael Anderson.