Thus far, the petition has only been advertised on this blog, the Right Mind blog, and in a guest op-ed I did for the Whitman County Gazette a couple of months back. Ultimately, I would like to see a copy printed off and posted in every business in Pullman, Colfax, Uniontown, Rosalia, etc. Feel free to print off the text of the petition yourself, gather signatures and then contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to turn them in. This is not strictly an online petition and I'd love to get over a 1000 or more signatures before turning it in to the Moscow City Council. We'll see if Queen Nancy has had heard of BREO by then. Oh, and I will have no comment on yet another of Rerun's whinings in today's paper, here or anywhere else. Terry Day did that better than I could in advance yesterday. But just to annoy Reed, you should sign the BREO petition.
Pullman group says city's stance on development in Whitman County is financially motivated
April Coggins wants everyone to know how she feels about proposed development in the Pullman-Moscow Highway corridor.
A Pullman business owner and member of the Businesses and Residents for Economic Opportunity, Coggins was the second person to add her name to an online petition asking that the city of Moscow stop interfering with potential growth across the state line.
"They are trying to stop development in Whitman County. They're clearly trying to stop economic development," she said. The petition is "for people to be able to express their dissatisfaction with Moscow meddling with affairs that are not in their jurisdiction. We would just like to demonstrate that there are people that don't like Moscow interfering in Whitman County business."
BREO is a Pullman-based group that supports free enterprise, business growth and healthy competition in Whitman County.
The petition, titled "Stop meddling in the Pullman-Moscow corridor," claims that Moscow has long been the business hub of the Palouse, taking a hefty chunk of an estimated $158.4 million a year in retail dollars from Whitman County.
Coggins said the BREO-sponsored petition was stimulated by Moscow's protest to a March application by Boise-based Hawkins Companies to transfer water rights to its proposed development along the Pullman-Moscow Highway, just west of the Idaho border. The company requested the transfer of a water right for 120 acre feet, drawing from Pullman, LaCrosse and the South Fork of the Palouse River near Colfax, along with the transfer of 100 acre feet of another water right to the city of Colton.
Moscow and local activist Mark Solomon filed protests over the proposed water transfers with the Washington State Department of Ecology in April. Their protest claimed that water-right transfers with Colton and the proposed development site do not come from the same body of public water. They also argued that the water would deplete wells and threaten the area's aquifer system.
The four water transfer applications were unanimously approved in a Wednesday meeting of the Whitman County Water Conservancy Board. Hawkins Companies must now get formal approval from the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Coggins said the board's decision is a step in the right direction for Whitman County development, but Moscow officials still need to mind their own business. She added that Pullman is downstream from Moscow, and "whatever water we would use is water that Moscow will be done with."
The petition states that Moscow's protest has strained the relationship between Whitman and Latah counties and that development in the corridor would provide a balance of tax dollars.
The petition has been online for about a month and currently has 33 listings and comments - some of which are anonymous - from people throughout Whitman and Latah counties.
Coggins said the Hawkins development "is clearly in the jurisdiction in Whitman County. All the water they'll use is in Whitman County."
Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney disagrees.
As neighbors, what happens in Pullman or Whitman County affects Moscow, even if it's in another state, Chaney said. New development will reshape the Palouse region and increased activity on the highway could pose problems with safety, as Moscow emergency crews would be obligated to respond.
"I'm unfamiliar with the BREO group and I haven't seen their petition, but if the gist of it is that they have some suspicion that Moscow's motives are not about retaining our water resource and residents' safety, they are mistaken," she said. "We have issues about our water supply on the Palouse. We have issues about safety. We have issues about sprawl."
Pullman resident Mick Chase added his name to the petition as a way to support the development. He said he knows the state line butts up against Moscow, but is frustrated as to why the city would be so opposed to Whitman County working to retain tax dollars.
"If it was in Moscow, or in Idaho, they would have a right to petition," he said. "I think we need shopping centers. I think we need more places to buy stuff. Now we have a chance to do that (in Whitman County.)
"I'm more for pro-growth," he added. "I think that the corridor is ripe for growth and I think it's the perfect place to grow. I think this place is really ripe to bloom."
Chaney said those who think Moscow's protest efforts are about revenue are wrong.
"Friendly competition is the name of the game," she said. "I don't begrudge Whitman County residents their economic prosperity."
Coggins said protests from Moscow officials are grounded in their desperation to keep money in Moscow.
"We're all supposed to be friends in this - friendly competition," she said. "This (protest) isn't friendly. This is an aggressive move."
Chaney said she has no plans to decrease her efforts, adding that Moscow officials likely will continue to protest the issue with the Department of Ecology until a final decision is made.
'We'll have another time to comment," she said.The petition can be viewed at www.ipetitions.com/petition/breo/signatures.html.