Planning & Development

The Planning and Development Division helps guide Port growth and development in a manner that promotes jobs, protects environmental resources, and improves the Port District for all Whatcom County citizens and users of port facilities by maintaining and updating the Port’s Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements.

A comprehensive scheme of Harbor Improvements provides guidance for administrative decisions and actions. A comprehensive scheme of harbor improvements is a broad framework of goals, policies and physical development identified by the port for an unspecified period of time. Unlike municipal comprehensive plans which are subject to the Growth Management Act and are required to be updated every 7 years, Port comprehensive schemes are subject to RCW 53.20.010 which states, “ It shall be the duty of the port commission of any port district, before creating any improvements hereunder, to adopt a comprehensive scheme of harbor improvements...”. If a project is not identified in the Port’s comprehensive scheme of harbor improvements, the port commission must first hold a public hearing to receive public input on the project before amending or updating the comprehensive scheme. During this time, citizens will have the opportunity to review the proposed changes and will be encouraged to provide feedback and participate in the public process.

The Port of Bellingham’s Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements for the entire Port district is made up of six regional improvement plans which include the Bellingham International Airport, Blaine’s Wharf District, Fairhaven, Squalicum Harbor, Sumas International Cargo Terminal and Bellingham’s Waterfront District.

Typical elements of a comprehensive scheme of harbor improvements include an inventory of assets, a review of land use regulations, a review of market conditions and a capital improvement plan with planning level cost estimates. More accurate cost estimates are identified in the annual strategic capital budget.