Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Mediation between city, Hawkins under way"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Moscow City Councilman Walter Steed said he could not comment on ongoing mediation between representatives of the city of Moscow and Hawkins Companies.

Steed, Councilman Wayne Krauss and Mayor Nancy Chaney are attending the mediation in Spokane, which started Tuesday. Steed said Tuesday afternoon that the rules of the mediation require him to keep information confidential.

He said he could not comment on how long the mediation would take. Krauss said earlier this week that the mediation would likely run through today.

Moscow has appealed the Washington State Department of Ecology's decision to grant the Boise-based development company water-rights transfers for a proposed retail development in the Pullman-Moscow corridor, just west of the Idaho state line.

The appeal, which was filed with the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board, argues that the water rights are located in two different bodies of public groundwater and the transfers will impair existing water rights, not be in the public's interest and will improperly modify the manner of the rights' intended use.

The appeal also cited the Department of Ecology's failure to conduct an analysis of the average amount of water use from the rights over the past five years.

Krauss and Chaney could not be reached for comment.

Councilmen Dan Carscallen, Tom Lamar, Bill Lambert and John Weber said Tuesday they had not heard any news about the mediation.

Weber said Peter G. Scott, a Montana-based lawyer who is representing the city in the appeal, will speak for Moscow in the mediation.

"I think Wayne and Walter were there to show moral support and the fact that we're serious about it, and so is the mayor, but as far as them giving any testimony I think the testimony would have been given by our mediator or experts," Weber said.

The City Council will have to approve any decision reached at the mediation before it will be official.

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