Editor,[UPDATE from Tom. Here is the letter to which Scotty refers:
In response to the letter by the City of Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney, the fact is Moscow is only against development when it is in Whitman County. Development in Whitman County will keep shoppers from crossing into Idaho. This will reduce the tax-revenue that Moscow receives from Whitman County Residents. It may also draw shoppers from Latah County into Whitman County further reducing Moscow's tax base.
The city of Moscow claims that it is concerned about James Toyota building a dealership on SR270. One argument is that it would put too much of a strain on the area's shared water supply. However, James Toyota already uses said shared water supply. The only difference is they will be moving from Moscow to Whitman County -- causing a loss of tax revenue for the city of Moscow.
Moscow's concern over water needs to start at home, not in Whitman County. Since 1992 Moscow has exceeded their targeted water use by 763 million gallons. While during the same period Pullman was come in below their target by 644 million gallons. Please, Mayor Chaney, clean your own house before you worry what mine looks like.
Moscow is also concerned about a proposed development known at "The Hawkins Development" that would go on SR270 near the Washington State line. Once again water usage is one of the big complaints by the city of Moscow. They are also concerned about the development being so close to the border of Moscow. They are concerned about water run off into the stream on the south side of SR270.
When Wal-Mart, Applebees, Sears, Staples, and other stores were being built right next to the Whitman county border, there were no concerns from Moscow. They did not try to stop the development on their side of the border due to water usage, water run off, nor traffic concerns. Now that Whitman County is going to get a piece of the tax-revenue pie that Moscow has been hogging for years, complaints start to fly.
The mayor believes that the City of Moscow has a say in the process of development in Whitman County because they are affected by it, plus, as she states we all want to be good neighbors and good citizens of the Palouse. First off, if the mayor were to give us back half of the tax revenue that Moscow collects from Washington shoppers, that would be neighborly, however, I am not holding my breath.
Secondly, according to Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy neither law nor legal precedent requires Whitman County to address or discuss the development with Moscow. Whitman County is the one trying to be a good neighbor and include Moscow in the discussion.
With the city of Moscow attempting to stop ALL development that has been proposed for the SR270 corridor it is no wonder people believe that Moscow is anti-growth. But with the members of the Moscow Community welcoming more growth just north of the Palouse Mall, which helps illustrate Moscow’s anti-growth outlook when it comes to Whitman County.
The mayor thinks that Whitman County should grow within the city of Pullman and Colfax, not on SR270. However, most of our Econ 101 students can probably figure out why the developers want to build near the Palouse Mall and Wal-Mart. For those who can't, businesses want to locate near were there is a base of shoppers.
Currently, most of the shoppers on the Palouse go to the Mall and Wal-Mart. Building a new development near those places will help ensure the stores thrive. From Moscow's point of view, the only real problem with the Hawkins Development is that it is going to be built in Whitman County.
Moscow has challenged Whitman County's vision for large-scale development along the state Route 270 corridor.]
Some have interpreted our challenge to mean that we are "against" our neighbors to the west. Nothing could be further from the truth. I hold good wishes for Whitman and Latah County communities.
Good working relationships and clear communication are critical to the well-being of our region. Collectively, we all benefit from a broad, deep and thriving regional economy. It is not meddlesome to include environmental concerns, sustainable practices and principles of Smart Growth in multi-jurisdictional conversations. Quality of life, public safety and natural resources are not confined by political boundaries.
Strip developments on the SR-270 corridor have the potential to dramatically and adversely affect the landscape and quality of life for everyone on the Palouse, now and in the future. That's why Washington's State Environmental Policy Act, Department of Ecology and Whitman County's conditional use permitting process routinely solicit comments from any potentially affected parties - including Moscow - regardless of jurisdictional affiliation.
Recognition that environmental, economic and social sustainability are interconnected is not unique to government. WSU and UI, the region's largest employers, consider the concept as common sense today.
Environmental responsibility and economic well-being are not mutually exclusive. Let's keep the lines of communication open and agree on certain logical and ethical bounds to development, so that commerce and communities across the Palouse can thrive for generations to come.