Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Latah County still mulling decision on proposed big-box ordinance"

According to today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Latah County does not seem so anxious to drink Moscow' Kool-Aid:
Latah County Commissioner Paul Kimmell said he’s not sure adopting Moscow’s Large Retail Establishment Ordinance would be best for the area of impact surrounding the city.

The county also doesn’t want to put the area of impact in limbo, making it too confusing for developers and residents to do anything with their land.

Kimmell said he and the rest of the commissioners will discuss their options with the county planning director this week before making a final decision Monday at 2 p.m.

The commissioners held a public hearing Monday night to gather testimony on whether the county should enact city ordinances regarding lighting, the permit process and so-called big-box stores.

Moscow already has restrictions on the design, lighting, parking and landscape for stores within the city limits, and also is considering size-cap and dark-store provisions.

Historically, the county has enacted the city’s laws over the area of impact to aid continuity as the city grows.

The area of impact still is in the county, but probably will be annexed into the city as Moscow expands.

People living outside Moscow but within the area of impact cannot vote for city representatives, although many of the city’s laws affect them.

Kimmell said the city may soon make adjustments to its big-box law concerning automotive dealers and buildings with excessive square footage, and he doesn’t want to impose new rules until the changes are clear.

Kimmell said the county also is concerned about the message the laws send to developers.

“We have an untested ordinance,” Kimmell said. “The design standards have not been tested. Maybe we need to proceed cautiously with adoption and find out if there are any consequences.”

Kimmell said he doesn’t question that the Moscow City Council wants what’s best for the city. He said the big-box law creates a perception of a less-than-friendly business environment.

“That is not the county’s goal,” he said. “No business has applied under the new ordinance. We don’t know how it works.”

Kimmell said the Idaho side of the border must not repel development to the Washington side, which would hinder sales tax benefits to Moscow and Latah County.

The county doesn’t have to adopt the city’s laws. Kimmell said the county must look out for its residents, and good testimony from both sides was presented at Monday’s public hearing.

He said the county looks forward to reaching a decision that will complement both the city and the county.

Kimmell doesn’t foresee the county adopting any of the city’s laws in bits and pieces. He said the county will either adopt or reject the laws as they are.


Dale Courtney said...

Kimmell is one of the good guys.

He's director of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and well understands that the no-growth platform of our "progressives" will kill Moscow.


April E. Coggins said...

I will be suprised if the current Latah County Commissioners pass this ordinance. However, with Paul Kimmel stepping down and a Democrat elected to replace him, I expect the no-growthers to try again. I think how Democrat Commissioner Stroschein votes on the ordinance will indicate how soon they will try.