Issuance of a conditional use permit allowing James Toyota to develop a site along the Pullman-Moscow Highway has been challenged by the city of Moscow.
The city submitted comments on the development to Whitman County Planning officials last week, worrying the construction of the dealership so close to Paradise Creek would impair the already polluted waterway.
James, long-time Moscow automobile dealer, is looking to develop a 13.67 acre site in the corridor, one mile west of the state line. The plan includes a five-acre display lot.
Also among the city's concerns was the impact the development would have on the region's water supply.
Moscow also noted potentially increased peril the development would have on users of the Bill Chipman Memorial Trail and traffic on SR 270.
The Moscow comments go on to say the proposal "does not support the concept of orderly development as articulated in the Comprehensive Plan because it is nearly at the edge of Whitman County's jurisdiction and promotes the sprawl that Washington State law seeks to prevent."
Moscow's comments on the James development come on the heels of the city's opposition to the SEPA determination for a proposed 600,000 square-foot retail development by Hawkins Companies, also in the stateline area of Pullman-Moscow corridor.
That has led Whitman County officials to question Moscow's motives.
"What disappoints me is we've taken an attitude not to interfere with their development," said District 2 County Commissioner Jerry Finch. "They don't practice what they're preaching."
Finch pointed out developments on the Moscow side of the state line.
"In the past ten years, up to that new Goodwill, if you look at that area, there's no water retention on those developments," he said.
Both Finch and District 1 Commissioner Greg Partch said they made attempts to contact Moscow and Latah County while drawing up the Pullman-Moscow Corridor District.
"We've worked with Pullman every step of the way," said Partch. "We tried to offer the same to Moscow, but their response has been 'we're going to fight this every step of the way'."
Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney was unavailable for comment as of press time, but in a letter to the Gazette this week she said that the city's challenges should not be interpreted to mean they are "against our neighbors to the west."
"We knew for a long time that road was coming and had the potential to drive economic development," said Partch. "We spent a year and a half with planning and public works to get the corridor business friendly."
Finch compared mutual benefits from the development of the corridor with the results of his family's grocery business decisions 40 years ago.
He noted that Sissmore's and Safeway in Pullman reaped rewards when the new Finch's grocery store opened.
"In February 1966, we opened Finch's," he said. "And five years later, Dissmore's profits were higher than before we opened. We kept people in the area, and that benefited everyone."
Finch said the same notion would help everyone in the area retain customers, and, noting the difference in minimum wages in Washington and Idaho, increase spending.
"This is somehting that will benefit the whole region," said Finch, who pointed out the difference in the two states' minimum wages.
"Workers coming from Idaho for that extra $22.24 a day will help the economy of both towns with extra spending money," said Finch.
Officials in the county's planning department said it would be inappropriate to address Moscow's concnerns at this time, saying the department's response will be presented to the Board of Adjustment during the conditional use hearing.
Representatives from James Toyota said they were holding comment until after the Feb. 1. hearing.
Under corridor zone requirements, a conditional use permit will be required for the proposed James relocation.