Pullman-Moscow Highway development moves forward with OK from planning departmentOkay, here we go. Let's see if PARD does anything about this. I doubt it. They're already too committed fighting Wal-Mart. This development is twice as big as the Pullman Wal-Mart project and they generated 550 pages of SEPA comments for that.
The proposed shopping center on the Pullman-Moscow Highway has received a preliminary green light from the Whitman County Planning Department, and county residents are invited to comment on the development.
County Planning Director Mark Bordsen issued a preliminary mitigated determination of nonsignificance on the developer’s State Environmental Policy Act checklist Wednesday, triggering a 14-day public comment period that will expire at 4 p.m. Feb. 16.
The decision means the county has found the application will comply with all required environmental standards once certain conditions have been met, said County Engineer Mark Storey.
The Hawkins Companies submitted an application in January to build a shopping complex just west of the Idaho state line. The design includes three large retail stores, one of which has been earmarked for a 135,000-square-foot Lowe’s home improvement store. Lowe’s has declined to comment on a possible store in the Pullman-Moscow area, although a company representative did say the home improvement chain plans to expand throughout the United States this year.
The plans also include space for eight smaller retail stores ranging from 20,000-30,000 square feet and eight smaller “pad” areas.
A traffic assessment must be completed before Hawkins can move forward. It would provide a count of the average number of cars expected to visit the shopping center and a projection of how traffic will flow in the area once the stores are open for business.
The developers have hired a consultant to conduct the traffic study and results should be available in two or three weeks, Storey said.
The company has said it wants to install a stop light at the main entrance to the shopping complex in anticipation of the extra traffic generated by the development, he said.
The speed limit for the section of State Route 270 adjacent to the shopping complex will be dropped from 55 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour as part of the highway expansion and redesign planned by the Washington State Department of Transportation, said Al Gilson, a WSDOT spokesman.
The Hawkins Companies also are discussing options for including bike and pedestrian paths on the site. The stop light may include a crosswalk that would link paths on the shopping center property with the Chipman Trail across the highway, Storey said.
The second condition included in the preliminary determination requires the developer to identify and preserve any possible wetlands on the site.
The county had two other options for a decision under SEPA rules. It could have issued a determination of nonsignificance — a decision saying the development met all applicable standards and would have no serious impact on the surrounding environment. The other option would have been a determination of significance, which would have meant the county expected the application to have a serious impact on the surrounding environment.
The application and comments again will be reviewed by Bordsen after the public comment period closes on the preliminary determination. He then will issue a final decision, which will start the clock on a 10-day appeal period.
The public also will have the opportunity to comment when the developer’s conditional-use permit application is heard by the county’s Board of Adjustment. A zoning ordinance adopted by the county commissioners in October requires a conditional-use permit for all development in the State Route 270 corridor. No date has been set for a public hearing. The developers are waiting until the SEPA process is complete before submitting their conditional-use permit application, Storey said.
Jeff Devoe, a spokesman for the Hawkins Companies, confirmed the Boise-based developer is working to meet the conditions put on the application by the county, although he does not expect to find any wetlands on the property.
For more information about the proposed development, visit the Hawkins Companies Web site at www.hawkinscompanies.com/
I'll bet the Moscow Civic Association and Palouse Clearwater Environmental Institute, however, will try to submit some SEPA comments.