Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"Moscow must wait for hearing on corridor; Whitman must first iron out legal issues"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
A public hearing on Moscow’s appeal of the proposed Hawkins Companies shopping center development is postponed indefinitely as Whitman County works to resolve legal questions about how to conduct the hearing.

Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy advised the county commissioners Monday state law may require the county to combine the appeal hearing with a hearing on the developer’s conditional-use permit.

Boise-based developers Hawkins Companies submitted an application to Whitman County in January to build a more than 600,000-square-foot retail center on the north side of the Moscow-Pullman Highway, just west of the state line.

New development is allowed in the Moscow Pullman Highway corridor only by conditional-use permit. Each conditional-use permit application goes to a public hearing before the county Board of Adjustment. But Washington state law allows only one public hearing on a proposed development, and the city of Moscow’s appeal also must get a public hearing.

Moscow’s appeal challenges Whitman County Planner Mark Bordsen’s decision finding the proposed shopping center would not have a serious negative impact on the environment. Bordsen’s approval of the project was subject to conditions involving a traffic study and protection of wetlands.

Moscow’s appeal raises concerns about the development’s impact on local water supplies and stormwater drainage, as well as the possibility Moscow’s emergency services will have to respond outside of the city limits.

The Whitman County commissioners were scheduled to hear the appeal April 10.

Tracy is researching the law to determine whether the two hearings must be consolidated and, if so, what is the best way to do it.

“The state statutes seem to require a combined hearing,” Tracy said in an interview after the commissioners’ meeting Monday. ““We’re looking at one body to hear it, but which body is being investigated.”

The consolidated hearing could go to the county commissioners, who were slated to preside over Moscow’s appeal, or to the Board of Adjustment, which traditionally hears conditional-use permit applications.

No new date has been set for a hearing on the proposed development. Tracy will discuss the possibility of a combined hearing with the commissioners again at 10:30 a.m. Monday.


What happened

The Whitman County commissioners agreed to postpone a public hearing on the city of Moscow’s appeal on the proposed shopping center development in the Pullman-Moscow Highway corridor. Prosecutor Denis Tracy is reviewing state laws that may require combining the appeal hearing with other hearings in the process.

What it means

The development will be delayed indefinitely until a new hearing date is set.

What’s next

Tracy will visit the commissioners at 10:30 a.m. Monday for further discussions.

Why you should care

The proposed 600,000-square-foot development could have an impact on water, infrastructure and public services throughout the region.


Sarcastic Housewife #1 said...

I'm sorry, but I just don't think Latah County should get a say in what happens in Whitman County. This is craziness.

April E. Coggins said...

PLEASE contact Mark Shoesler, Don Cox and David Buri. This is not just a local Whitman County issue, it is a state issue. This is a prescendent that will impact every development in Washington State. Unfortunately, Olympia seems asleep at the switch. I can foresee this appeal being footnoted in every border appeal for the next fifty years.

Pullman has now annexed out to the airport, with the intent of developing light industry. Will we allow Moscow to use Washington State laws, to harrass every developer to relocate to an easier place? Like Moscow, Idaho perhaps?

Ray Lindquist said...

Anyone know how the Whitman County commissioners stand on this development?

April E. Coggins said...

The commissioners are obligated to remain neutral until they have heard the arguments from both sides. They will act as a body of impartial hearing examiners. We can not communicate with them until the hearing.

I did finally hear back from Don Cox via E-mail. He said that he has forwarded my concerns to Attorney General Rob McKenna. Hopefully this appeal will be looked into even if they decide that Moscow should have standing.