Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, January 26, 2007

"Window closes for Moscow, Solomon to appeal Hawkins’ SEPA checklist"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Developers now will seek conditional use permit for proposed corridor retail center in Whitman County

The city of Moscow and Latah County resident Mark Solomon declined to appeal an environmental checklist for a proposed large-scale retail development in Whitman County, just across the state line.

Whitman County Planner Mark Bordsen said Moscow and Solomon, a local activist, had until 4 p.m. Thursday to file an appeal.

Bordsen said Hawkins Companies’ State Environmental Policy Act checklist is now complete. The next step for the proposed 600,000-square-foot retail center will be a conditional use permit public hearing that is tentatively scheduled for mid-February.

Whitman County Commissioner Michael Largent said he wasn’t surprised by Moscow and Solomon’s decision not to appeal the SEPA checklist. He hopes the county’s dedication to addressing various environmental concerns was demonstrated through the SEPA process.

Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney said the city decided not to appeal because of Whitman County’s apparent lack of willingness to change requirements for the proposed development. The city will wait and see what occurs at the conditional use permit hearing and will monitor Hawkins Companies’ search for adequate water rights for the development.

The city still has concerns about the proposed development, Chaney said. It will continue to make the concerns known and work to solve them.

In its previous comments about the proposed development, the city stressed its concerns over environmental impacts and the effect development would have on the area and its water supply.

It also was concerned about infrastructure and increased traffic, police and fire protection and the location of a retail center so far from the county’s population base.

Chaney and Largent both said they had a chance to meet at a quarterly regional meeting Thursday. Both were encouraged by each other’s apparent willingness to work together on issues like development.

“If we can put faces and relationships to paper flying back and forth between us I think it will go a long way for us to work together as a region,” Chaney said.

Chaney said Thursday’s breakfast was a good start.

Bordsen did not have a timeline for construction to begin on the development. Water still is a challenge for Hawkins Companies, which must find water rights that apply to the Pullman-Moscow corridor and have the permits approved by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Solomon said his main issue with the proposed development focused on water availability around Moscow. He’s concerned the development will draw enough water from the area’s aquifer system to negatively affect Moscow’s supply.

Solomon plans to stay involved in the water-right transfer and allocation process and focus his comments to those governing boards.
"The city decided not to appeal because of Whitman County’s apparent lack of willingness to change requirements for the proposed development?" Damn straight. I'm glad they got that their thick skulls.

Kudos to Mike Largent for his diplomacy. That is why I will never run for elected office. If I were a Whitman County Commissioner and met with the Moscow City Council, a "Geraldo" type brawl might have broken out.

Hopefully, we'll be breaking ground in the summer. Now, if we could only shake Wal-Mart loose.


April E. Coggins said...

Hopefully, when Mike Largent has his private meetings with Nancy Chaney, he remembers which side of the border he was elected to serve.

Satanic Mechanic said...

Don't worry about Mike. I know him, he is conservative. He was born and raised here in Whitman County. He has a lot of common sense, he is a farmer and will not kowtow to the queen of Moscow.
He will tell Nancy where to go with her concerns.

April E. Coggins said...

Satanic Mechanic: I hope you are right. The next few weeks and months will be interesting.

Slight correction, Nancy Chaney is not the Queen of Moscow, where she was duly elected as mayor. She is the self-coronated Queen of Whitman County, where we did not have the benefit of an election. The Queen and her merry Court have ruled that only "Smart Growth" may occur in Moscow. As Supreme Ruler of the Palouse, Queen Nancy has proclaimed that by default, anything decreed in Moscow must also extend throughout Whitman County. We are but mice among giants.