Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

"Company submits a new plan for proposed shopping center in corridor"

According to Saturday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News, the Hawkins Companies development is back and better than ever. It won't matter though. Moscow will still fight it tooth and nail. People in Whitman County will need to get behind this project like never before.

Hawkins Companies submitted a new plan and environmental checklist for its proposed shopping center just west of the Idaho state line.

Whitman County Planner Mark Bordsen received a new State Environmental Policy Act checklist Thursday that included consultant studies on the impact of the development on wetlands and traffic in the proposed construction site.

Hawkins Companies originally submitted an application to Whitman County in January to build a shopping complex along the Pullman-Moscow Highway just west of the state line. The proposed development, at 600,000-square-feet, is seven times as large as the Wheatland Mall in Pullman and about twice the size of the Palouse Mall in Moscow.

Bordsen said he will review Hawkins’ findings next week and decide what precautions Hawkins will have to take to build the shopping center.

“I have to go through the checklist now and look at everything with a fresh mind,” Bordsen said. “The slate is clean.”

Bordsen approved Hawkins Companies’ initial SEPA checklist with some conditions involving a traffic study and protection of wetlands.

The city of Moscow appealed Bordsen’s decision, claiming the Hawkins development would have an adverse effect on the environment, and the city’s police and fire departments would end up responding to emergencies at the center without reaping any of the tax revenue.

Based on the appeal, representatives for Hawkins asked Bordsen to withdraw its request for a conditional use permit in early May.

I hope Moscow’s concerns are addressed in this new report by the Hawkins group,” said Denis Tracy, Whitman County prosecutor. “They have included quite a bit more info than before, and I believe Moscow’s concerns will be properly addressed.”

Tracy said Whitman County takes its responsibilities as a neighbor to Latah County seriously. He said once Moscow sees the conditions Whitman County plans to present to Hawkins, the city will not need to file another appeal.

Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney hasn’t seen the developer’s new SEPA checklist, but she hopes Whitman County will seriously study the effects of the shopping center.

“Our issue is not about political jurisdiction,” she said. “All are concerned, and the details reach beyond the borders.”

After Bordsen decides what Hawkins needs to do to begin construction, people will have 14 days to file an appeal with Whitman County.

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