Big Box Retail

In 2009, Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike proposed amendments to the “Big Box” retail ordinance that provide exceptions in certain areas of Bellingham to the previous 90,000-square-foot size limit.  Those changes are now codified and are reflected in the new Big Box retail ordinance.

The exemption area applies to most of the commercial area between Wal-Mart and Costco down to Bellis Fair Mall, and would also include areas at Bakerview and I-5 where Fred Meyer is located.

Modified Draft Amendment

After holding a public hearing on September 21, 2009 and several work sessions between January and April of 2010, the City Council approved the amendments following a second public hearing.

The amendments retain the same exemption area and Green Factor  requirement as the original proposal but would also require LEED™ silver or equivalent green building certification and prohibit “superstores.” A “superstore” is generally defined as a store over 90,000 square feet that sells a wide range of household products and devotes more than 10 percent of the sales floor area to groceries (or non-taxable merchandise.) The definition excludes membership warehouse clubs where shoppers pay a membership fee.


For more information contact the Planning and Community Development Department.