Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"Chamber of Commerce questions city’s stance"

As reported HERE FIRST on THURSDAY, this appeared in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Chamber: City’s comments on proposed auto dealership don’t represent views of many Moscow businesses

The Moscow Chamber of Commerce is concerned about Mayor Nancy Chaney and the city’s stance on James Toyota’s proposed auto dealership in the Pullman-Moscow corridor.

A letter signed by Chamber of Commerce President Mike Nelson and addressed to Chaney said the city’s comments do not represent the views of many Moscow businesses and jumps outside the city’s jurisdiction.

The letter stated that the city’s comments to Whitman County were “unwarranted and struck our organization as meddling in the affairs of others outside of our jurisdiction.”

On Friday, Nelson said the chamber is “not trying to start a war, but we do think that the comments made by the mayor do not reflect the sentiments of many businesses in the area.”

The city of Moscow filed formal comments with Whitman County last week concerning its determination of nonsignificance in regard to State Environmental Policy Act guidelines for the proposed 6-acre dealership, which would be located one mile west of Moscow on the Pullman-Moscow Highway. The county made its determination earlier this month.

Moscow believes the development could put more pollutants into Paradise Creek, which runs between Moscow and Pullman, and it also could cause water in the creek to warm due to the proximity of the large lot’s pavement. The city also said the development’s water use could deplete the area’s aquifer system and vehicle traffic generated by the lot could cause a hazard for cyclists and pedestrians on the Bill Chipman Trail.

The chamber is concerned that the city does not foster business growth. Nelson said the city government needs to make the area attractive to businesses and not push them across the border to Washington.

Nelson said it would have been wonderful to have James Toyota relocate somewhere in Moscow, but having the dealership remain in the area is better than seeing it leave the region.

The chamber perceived Moscow’s comments as pushing its authority beyond its bounds. Nelson said such actions can cause ill-will and mistrust with Whitman County.

Whitman County Commissioner Michael Largent said many of Moscow’s comments focused more on corridor zoning laws than on the State Environmental Policy Act and conditional use permit.

Largent said the county must and will follow all rules related to building near waterways and wetlands. Potential impacts from any development are taken into consideration before a determination is made.

Nelson said Moscow’s comments were an indirect attack against James Toyota.

Chaney sent a letter responding to the chamber Friday night. She wrote that the comments were not intended to attack James Toyota, but to point out potentially adverse effects of the proposed development.

According to Chaney’s letter, potential effects from the proposed development are not confined by jurisdictional boundaries and the city commented “as anticipated by the SEPA, (Department of Ecology) and (conditional use permit) process.”

Moscow filed similar comments to Whitman County in regard to Hawkins Companies’ proposed 600,000-square-foot shopping center on the Pullman-Moscow Highway, just across the border from Moscow.

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