Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, September 01, 2006

Latah County Joins In The Fun

More good news for Pullman and Whitman County. Looks like latah County is going to join in on Moscow's "big box" ordinance. From today's Daily News:
Commission favors big-box law

The Latah County Planning Commission voted 3-2 Thursday in favor of applying Moscow’s big-box store law to the Moscow area of city impact.

The recommendation will now go to the county commissioners, who will make the final decision.

The area of impact is county ground set aside for future city expansion. Suvia Judd, acting chairwoman for the planning commission, said the county attempts to keep the area of impact under the same laws as the city. She said the streets need to line up with the city, and services and laws need to match up.

The city passed the big-box law in February. It requires businesses larger than 40,000 square feet to have a conditional-use permit to operate. Stores larger than 65,000 square feet are required to pay for studies on traffic, noise and fiscal impacts.

“This does not encourage a free marketplace,” said Steve Busch, president of the Greater Moscow Alliance. “This sends the wrong signal to businesses who want to come to this area. It will drive business across the border.”

The alliance is a nonprofit group that promotes free-market enterprise. Busch said Moscow has enjoyed being the Palouse’s retail-sales hub for a long time. The city doesn’t understand that tax revenue could shift to Pullman and Whitman County if Moscow and Latah County do not actively work to keep businesses on the Idaho side.

“We could be causing consequences that may not bloom until years down the road,” Busch said.

Jim Smith, a member of the planning commission, voted for the law. He does not see a huge impact if Wal-Mart or another big-box store locates across the border.

“What’s the rush?” he said. “It’s hard to tell what would happen. Moscow is healthy and a new store in Pullman will not destroy Latah County.” [I agree with Jim. Heck, let's have all the new stores locate in Pullman.]

People in the area of impact do not vote for city laws or representatives. Judd said the planning commission and the county commissioners have a legal and moral obligation to make sure those people's interests are represented.

Judd did not vote because she is the chairwoman.

Judd said she probably would have supported the big-box store law if she had voted. Residents in the area of impact should have laws like the city. Large stores can have negative impacts on the community and destroy the attributes that make the community appealing.

However, she can see things from Busch’s perspective.

She said it’s possible that the people who want to keep the big-box stores out of Moscow have a stable job and few economic problems.

“They don’t need to shop or work at those businesses to make it,” she said. “It could serve the people that need discounts and retail jobs best to have it here instead of having to drive down to Lewiston.”

Recommendations on the big-box store law and others on lighting, schools and telecommunication-tower locations will now go to the county commissioners to be rejected or become law. The commissioners have not yet set a date to consider the recommendations.

Busch said the alliance will focus its appeal with the county commissioners and try to stop the big-box store law.
And people wonder why this region has an attitude of being unfriendly to business. Home Depot will open in Moscow/Latah County when pigs fly.

1 comment:

April E. Coggins said...

The property will not be developed because Moscow's A Street needs to loop into Whitman county. With the current tension between the two entities, that is not going to happen.

Isn't it too funny that Moscow doesn't have enough water for Wal-Mart or the Hawkins development, but now has plenty for Home Depot? Does a Lowes use more water than a Home Depot?