Bellingham airport annexation to city moves forward
A long-running effort to annex Bellingham International Airport made substantial progress this week, with officials from the city and Port of Bellingham both agreeing to work together to resolve outstanding issues surrounding the process that will bring the port-controlled facility within the city boundaries.
The Bellingham City Council approved the agreement Monday and the port commissioners followed suit on Tuesday. The agreement permits the port to hook up new water and sewer connections on its airport property while the full annexation process moves forward. The deal temporarily resolves an impasse to the annexation process that developed earlier this year when the city questioned the new hookups to the 1,200-acre port-run airport and additional surrounding industrial property. The acreage sits just outside city limits and while entitled to water hookup under a 1984 agreement between city hall and the port, a 2004 city council vote required properties outside city limits to agree to annexation to obtain city utility hookups. While the city at first did not strictly enforce the 2004 annexation regulation when it came to the airport property, city officials decided last year to hold the airport to the letter of the 2004 regulation.
This week's agreement between the port and city provides a four month deadline for both to jointly study annexation of the airport property. The agreement also calls for both to reach an agreement on final terms of annexation, including responsibility for maintenance of airport access roads and other city zoning matters.