A story posted Friday afternoon (Aug.20), under the headline “Coal port work near Bellingham could draw a lengthy time out," was withdrawn. Almost immediately after publication, Crosscut writers learned that administrative developments had altered the outlook for handling of the administrative punishments for work done without permits at a proposed Cherry Point site.
Here’s what happened: The Washington Department of Natural Resources and the Whatcom County Prosecutor’s office decided, in collaboration, that while contractors for the would-be builder of the coal port, SSA Marine, had violated the State Forest Practices Act, the violation was not of the type that would trigger a Whatcom County Code section mandating a development moratorium of up to six years. The Whatcom County Department of Planning and the Whatcom County Prosecutor announced simultaneously on Friday that there would be no moratorium imposed.
Unless there’s a legal challenge of the prosecutor’s opinion, it appears that SSA Marine’s removal of trees, road building, and grading of wetlands will be atoned by paying a small penalty, filing retroactive paperwork, restoring the damaged landscape, and promising not to do it again.