BELLINGHAM, WA-The Whatcom County Council has OK’d a rule prohibiting land clearing that exposes more than 500 sf of soil between Oct. 1 and April 30 in the Drayton Harbor, Lake Samish and Lake Whatcom except in an emergency.

County officials passed the land-clearing ban along with other temporary development laws in June. The reason for the ban is to protect drinking water and in certain areas, shellfish beds. The rules also mirror the city of Bellingham’s guidelines for land near Lake Whatcom.

Builders, worried about finalizing permits and construction costs, have argued that the ban is unnecessary because they already don’t work in the rain. They are pushing for a case-by-case analysis rather than a blanket ordinance.

Concerned citizens will have their say on whether the land-clearing ban becomes a permanent law. Permanent versions of the rezone and development rules will go to the planning commission and Council later this year.