Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, January 04, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Hawkins expected to ask Whitman County commissioners to extend infrastructure

From the Moscow-Pullman Daily News website:
Hawkins Companies officials on Monday are expected to ask Whitman County commissioners to extend public infrastructure to the site of its proposed 700,000-square-foot shopping development on the Pullman-Moscow Highway, just west of the Idaho state line.

Commissioners will meet with Hawkins officials at 2:30 p.m. in the commissioners’ chambers in the Whitman County Courthouse. The meeting is open to the public.

Commissioner Michael Largent said Hawkins representatives likely will ask for infrastructure investments in roads, sewer and water to make its development possible.

“A lot is at stake with this development and what happens there could potentially have a large, long-term impact on the Pullman-Moscow corridor and economic growth in our community well into the future,” Largent stated in an e-mail to the Daily News.
This is a move I absolutely expected. Hawkins is two years into this deal already. According to yesterday's Whitman County Gazette, this is how the water rights appeal process breaks down:
The Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) has set June 2-6 hearing dates for appeals regarding water rights issued and denied at the Hawkins Development at the Idaho stateline on the Pullman-Moscow corridor. An additional day of June 26 has also been reserved if needed.

The Department of Ecology decided to grant three water rights transfers and deny one to Hawkins Companies LLC of Boise. Hawkins has issued an appeal to PCHB for the denial, and the City of Moscow has appealed the decisions to grant the three transfers. Also in the appeal is the transfer of water rights to the town of Colton.

PCHB decided to consolidate the four appeals into one hearing. Maia Bellon, assistant Attorney General representing the DOE in the matter, explained that by consolidating the cases, the board will be able to hear all the witnesses at the same time. As some of the same witnesses will be called by different entities in the matter, this will eliminate multiple testimonies by the witness.

Recent PCHB decisions have taken from two to 15 months to be issued.

“It depends on the nature of the hearing,” she said. With the complexities of the Hawkins appeals, it will most likely take longer. If the hearing truly does take the whole week, the decision could take five to 10 months.

“My gut would be at best six months,” Bellon said.
So that's at least another YEAR just to get a decision from the PCHB, and that assumes Hawkins' appeal is successful, Moscow's appeals fail and that no court action is pursued. Even if Hawkins wins the appeal, Ecology will still have to go through the process of granting the water rights transfers again.

There is no way Hawkins is going to wait that long. We're lucky they haven't pulled the plug yet due to Moscow's meddling. It's now the moment of truth for Whitman County. Either the county steps up and provides water and sewer to the Hawkins development or Hawkins walks and Whitman County never gets another developer interested in the corridor again. Period.

Will it be expensive? Definitely. Will the payoff be worth it? Beyond question. I estimate the Hawkins development will bring in $3.3 million a year in sales taxes alone for the county. Is it fair? No, but Hawkins has bent over backwards and they are only be forced to do this because moonbat idiots Nancy Chaney and Mark Solomon have been allowed to sabotage this project.

This is also a moment of truth for the city of Pullman, which has recently expressed an interest in sales tax sharing with the county in return for providing utility services in the corridor. Now is the time for the Pullman City Council to make that move.

And something has to be done to reform our local land use processes that allows these small groups of left-wing malcontents to kill beneficial projects through baseless legal delays.

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