Friends of Pierce County


From Pierce County Planning & Public Works:

PUBLIC HEARINGS BY THE PIERCE COUNTY HEARING EXAMINER Pierce County Public Services Building (Annex), Public Meeting Room, 2401 S. 35th St., Tacoma, WA 98409


Project: Major Amendment to CP5-13 / ADR39-13: North Graham Storage Applications: 863198, 864525, 863199

Online Address:

Applicant:  South Puyallup Storage LLC Planner:  Adonais Clark,

Request: Major Amendment to CP5-13 to expand the existing North Graham Storage project. In addition, a street vacation application was submitted in January 2017 to vacate Graham Rd. E. at the south property line boundary. Total area, including the street vacation, is 1.88 acres (818,847 sq. ft.). Access to the site will be from the existing Phase 1 development. No new access to Meridian or Graham Rd. E. is being proposed. Development will include three new fully sprinkled buildings labeled:

“G” - Two-story building; the lower floor will be approximately 1,886 sq. ft. and the upper floor will be approximately 7,596 sq. ft. 

“H” - Two-story building; the lower floor will be approximately 13,885 sq. ft. and the upper floor will be approximately 20,158 sq. ft.

“I” - Single-story building will be approximately 12,094 sq. ft.

The project site is in a Mixed Use District (MUD) zone classification and the Graham Community Plan area, located at 19103 Meridian Ave. E., Puyallup, WA, in Council District #3.

From Pierce County Planning & Public Works:


Pierce County Public Services Building (Annex), Public Meeting Room, 2401 S. 35th St., Tacoma, WA 98409



Project: Shoreline Substantial Development Permit: Taylor Shellfish Farms –Torgeson / Kao / Roosa Geoduck Farm 

Application: 831236, 831237, 831235

Online Address: 

Applicants: Taylor Shellfish Farms

Planner: Ty Booth,

Request: Establish a commercial aquaculture farm involving the planting, growing, and harvesting of geoduck clams in the intertidal zone of private tidelands. The farm would be slightly over 4 acres in size, and would abut Taylor’s existing Stratford/ Meyer geoduck farm which is approximately 3 acres in size. The site is designated a Rural Shoreline Environment, Rural 10 (R10) zone classification, and within the Key Peninsula Community Plan area, located on the private tidelands in front of 6904, 6908, and 7024 - 190th Avenue KPN, on the east shoreline of Case Inlet (north of Dutchers Cove and south of Vaughn Bay), in Council District #7.

Note: The Hearing Examiner’s decision is final unless appealed. Please call (253) 798-7210 for further information. 

From Pierce County Planning & Public Works: 

Community Plan Updates:

Meeting dates have been updated to add more study sessions for Land Use Advisory Commissions to consider all of the updates to their Community Plans. Land Use Advisory Commission meetings are open to the public, but are often working sessions with minimal participation by audience members other than a short public comment period at the end of the meeting. Public open house meetings and hearings will start later in the fall when complete drafts of the updated Community Plans are available. An email with those dates will be sent when they are scheduled.


Updated Land Use Advisory Commission Study Session Dates:

  • September 6, 6:30 p.m. – Joint Land Use Advisory Commission (LUAC) Update at Mid-County Community Center, 10205 – 44th Ave. E, Tacoma 98446
  • September 11, 7:00 p.m. – South Hill LUAC Study Session at Central Pierce Fire & Rescue – Station 69, 17210 – 110th Ave. E, Puyallup 98374
  • September 12, 6:30 p.m. - Mid-County LUAC Study Session at Mid-County Community Center, 10205 – 44th Ave. E, Tacoma 98446
  • September 13, 6:30 p.m. - Parkland-Spanaway-Midland LUAC Study Session at Central Pierce Fire & Rescue - Station 61, 100 – 114th St. S., Tacoma 98444
  • September 25, 7:00 p.m. - Frederickson LUAC Study Session at Bethel Learning Center, 21818 – 38th Ave. E, Spanaway 98387
  • October 2, 7:00 p.m. - South Hill LUAC Study Session at Central Pierce Fire & Rescue - Station 69, 17210 – 110th Ave. E, Puyallup 98374
  • October 4, 6:30 p.m. - Parkland-Spanaway-Midland LUAC Study Session at Southeast Tacoma Community Center, 1614 – 99th St. E, Tacoma 98445
  • October 9, 7:00 p.m. - South Hill LUAC Study Session at Central Pierce Fire & Rescue - Station 69, 17210 – 110th Ave. E, Puyallup 98374
  • October 10, 6:30 p.m. - Mid-County LUAC Study Session at Mid-County Community Center, 10205 – 44th Ave. E, Tacoma 98446
  • October 16, 7:00 p.m. - Frederickson LUAC Study Session at Bethel Learning Center, 21818 – 38th Ave. E, Spanaway 98387
  • October 18, 6:30 p.m. - Parkland-Spanaway-Midland LUAC Study Session at Central Pierce Fire & Rescue - Station 61, 100 – 114th St. S., Tacoma 98444
  • October 23, 7:00 p.m. - Frederickson LUAC Study Session at Bethel Learning Center, 21818 – 38th Ave. E, Spanaway 98387
  • October 24, 6:30 p.m. - Mid-County LUAC Study Session at Mid-County Community Center, 10205 – 44th Ave. E, Tacoma 98446


Check our website for project updates and meeting dates:


Want to get more involved in Community Plan Updates and planning in your community? Apply for a position on your local Land Use Advisory Commission!


Pierce County is seeking applicants for Land Use Advisory Commissions in the following areas:

Land Use Advisory Commissions (LUACs) meet monthly to review development applications and policy issues affecting their areas. If you live, own property, or own a business in any of the above areas, please consider volunteering. Applications and more information can be found on the commission websites (linked above) or by calling (253) 798-3736 or emailing


Tiffany O’Dell

Senior Planner

Pierce County Planning & Public Works

(253)798-6859 |


Krystal Kyer

Planner/Watershed Coordinator

Pierce County Planning and Public Works

(253) 798-2485| 

From our friends at Citizens from a Healthy Bay re: EPA seeking Public Comments: 

Good news! We’ve gained more time to stop Scott Pruitt from rolling back key parts of the Clean Water Act. This law is one of the cornerstones of water protection for the entire country, and critical for the health of our wetlands and streams. Public outcry has been so large, the EPA extended the public comment period until the end of September.


Urge the EPA to keep wetlands and streams under the protection of the Clean Water Act!


Wetlands and seasonal streams are some of the most valuable wildlife habitat in the state, providing food and shelter for salmon, birds and a range of other species. They also protect us from floods, filter out polluted runoff and provide clean drinking water to 1 in 3 Americans. Stripping these waters of their Clean Water Act protection goes against solid, reasonable science and would have devastating consequences for humans and wildlife alike.


The EPA is accepting Public Comments through September. Click here to defend streams and wetlands now!

Rolling back water protections is a step backward that we simply cannot afford. This issue will have serious consequences for our local waters, and waters across the country. Take action today, and please help spread the word by sharing this message!

Thank you for all you do,

Ryan Cruz
Conservation Engagement Coordinator 
Citizens for a Healthy Bay

535 Dock Street, Suite 213
Tacoma, WA 98402
253-383-2429 | W 

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Friends of Pierce County  would like you to support
Used Car for Bud (FPC President)
by making a donation and helping spread the word.
Friends of Pierce County President, Bud Rehberg, has been involved in volunteering for numerous communities throughout Pierce County for over 25 years. He has done it all on his time and has made sure that Pierce County has made better decisions to protect the environment and save farmland. 
Over the past year, Bud has not been able to get to public meetings and board meetings because his 1964 car broke down and he cannot repair it. We are asking folks to help Bud - trying to raise funds so that he can buy a used car. The goal is $7,000. If you have a used car you can donate, please let us know. Please help Bud so he can continue to work for citizens of Pierce County. Thank you!
View Campaign

Aquatic Reserves Newsletter
June 2017

Working together to preserve, restore, and enhance state-owned aquatic lands that are of special educational, scientific, or environmental interest.


Hello Aquatic Reserve Partners,

The sunny season is upon us and this summer is shaping up to be as lively as you are willing to make it! With citizen science and educational opportunities around every corner, here's an update on what's happening around the state in our Aquatic Reserves. As always, please feel free for forward this newsletter to friends and neighbors and encourage them to sign up so that they can stay informed on the incredible work you are doing and the many ways they can become involved. Thank you for all that you do to ensure that these special places continue to thrive, we hope to see you out on the water and enjoying the beaches this summer!

All the best,
The Aquatic Reserves Program


Low Tide Celebrations at a Reserve Near You!

Low Tide Celebrations are happening this Saturday, June 24th at both Cherry Point and Maury Island Aquatic Reserves! With naturalists available at both events to show you around and plenty of organizations staffing informational booths, this is a time to learn about and enjoy the watery side of the place you call home. Check out the information below for details!


Maury Island Aquatic Reserve

Vashon High School biology students learned the entire process of sieving and processing forage fish samples from the beach to the lab. Thanks to Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WA DNR) and Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for providing enough equipment to make sure each student had a hands on experience.


The annual science symposium, ED Talks: Nature and Environment on the Rock, took place Sunday, June 11th on Vashon Island.


More than 180 people turned out to peruse posters and listen to talks at the event! Speakers ranged from high school biology students to professors from UW.

Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve in the News!

In case you missed the article in the Skagit Valley Herald, Students Experience Science in Fidalgo Bay, below are some photos of Anacortes School District students helping out with intertidal monitoring efforts in the Reserve.

Click here to read the article!


An Afternoon to Remember:

Article originally written for Friends of Skagit Beaches Newsletter by Pete Hasse of the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee


Friday, June 2nd was an afternoon many of us will remember for a long time. Nineteen youngsters from the mixed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade class of Abigail Ross at Anacortes Island View Elementary hopped out of a bus at 12:30 at the Fidalgo Bay Resort on a promise that they could go do surveys for Surf Smelt eggs. A dozen of us big guy volunteers stood there as ready as we felt possible, wondering what we were in for.

This story starts in January.

Read More

Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve

Cherry Point herring (Clupea pallasi), the eggs of which can be seen below on eelgrass blades, were once the largest and most prolific herring population in Washington State, but in the last three decades their population has plummeted. The Cherry Point herring are incredibly important to the northern Salish Sea ecosystem and many people in the environmental community are interested in the reasons for their decline and the steps needed to support their recovery. For more information about Cherry Point herring and to read more about a recent field trip  to Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve led by Mike McKay, a fish biologist with the Lummi Nation Department of Natural Resources, out to see a recent herring spawning event, click here!

To date, eight areas have been designated as Aquatic Reserves and Citizen Stewardship Committees support six of these Reserves. Check out the information below for more information on how to become involved in a Reserve near you.

Upcoming Citizen Stewardship Committee Meetings

Cherry Point: July 5th 4-6 PM RE Sources

Fidalgo Bay: TBD Chandler's Square Retirement Community

Maury Island: TBD Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust

Nisqually Reach: TBD Nisqually Reach Nature Center

Protection Island: July 27th 2-4 PM Port Townsend Marine Science Center

Smith and Minor Islands: June 20th 6:30-8:30 PM Coupeville Methodist Church


Upcoming Events

Cherry Point:
6/24 What's the Point? 10am - 2pm, Point Whitehorn Marine Park
10/14 Science Forum Venue and Time TBD

Fidalgo Bay: 
9/12 Fidalgo Bay Day, 11 am - 3 pm, Fidalgo Bay Resort

Maury Island: 
6/15 BeachNET Training, 6-8 pm, Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust Building
6/24 Low Tide Celebration, 10 am-2 pm, Pt. Robinson
BeachNET Surveys will be conducted June 21, 22; July 24, 25; August 20, 21. Email Maria Metler at to sign up or with questions.

Smith and Minor Islands: 
6/23 & 6/24, Kelp Social Surveys, 9 am-12 pm, Libbey Beach

Second Lake Kapowsin Work Party, July 15

We had a great work party last Saturday at Lake Kapowsin boat launch with a total of 19 volunteers.  Thanks to all that helped!!   Fish and Wildlife access managers Derek Hacker and John Evans also came and worked on the parking area green spaces to increase visibility for security. We cleared about 740 feet of an existing shoreline access trail (on WDFW property) that was overgrown with blackberry and some of the little spurs that access the lake shore.  Trash was cleaned up as well.  The trail has some big wet spots and could use some rock to firm those up; perhaps next time we could add that to the list. It turned out that a weedwhacker/brushcutter was the standout tool for the day, but a lot of us got quite a bit done with loppers as well. We also sent out two boats to patrol the lakeshore for trash, so if you want to help with that next time, bring a boat! A long reach grabber is a must for that task.


Below is the flyer for the July 15 work party – mark your calendar if you can come! And share with friends, paddlers, fisherman and duck hunters.


Thanks, hope to see you out there -


Birdie Davenport

Aquatic Reserves Program Manager

Aquatic Resources Division


Cell 360-915-4005

Tacoma and the Tideflats:


Nationally they have opened up coal, oil and gas industry opportunities, with effects rippling across the country, and fossil fuel export projects are already starting to come together right here in Tacoma.


The Tideflats are in the bullseye of the push to expand oil and gas development nationally, and we must make a choice to protect our future now.


Sign this petition now and tell the City Council to choose a cleaner, stronger way.



We cannot afford to become a shipping hub for massive energy export products. The Tideflats provides an economic engine for Tacoma, and the petrochemical industry should not chart the wrong course for our future. Tacoma’s manufacturing hub provides high-wage jobs and the promise of being a center for clean energy and industry. The threats are already upon us, with new types of oil and gas coming into our region and giant petrochemical projects like gas-to-methanol. Unfortunately, this will only intensify.


As Tacomans, we can stop this!


Let’s take a stand here in Tacoma – join us in petitioning city leaders to take action now: 


We call on the City of Tacoma to prohibit new fossil fuel exports now and turn our City of Destiny towards clean industry, manufacturing and moving valuable cargo that supports high wage jobs over the long term.


Tell the City Council now – say no to fossil fuel exports and yes to protecting our Tideflats for local jobs that build our city for a sustainable, prosperous future.


Thank you for all you do!


Ryan Cruz
Conservation Engagement Coordinator 
Citizens for a Healthy Bay

535 Dock Street, Suite 213
Tacoma, WA 98402
253-383-2429 | W 

From our friends at Citizens for a Healthy Bay:

As you may have heard, President Trump recently began rolling back the Clean Power Plan and other regulations aimed at fighting climate change. Tacomans know all too well that environmental regulations are foundationally important for the protection of both human and environmental health. We know that the time to act on climate change is now, and removing protections against fossil fuels moves us in the wrong direction.

Make no mistake, Tacoma is in the crosshairs for a future fossil fuel export facility – just like the methanol refinery was slated for Tacoma, we can expect other projects looming on our horizon. These fossil fuel export projects take a heavy toll on our environment and our waters. Greenhouse gas emissions lead to global warming and ocean acidification, which in turn kills salmon, decimates shellfish beds and generally threatens the entire marine ecosystem. Spills or other incidents can cause even more devastating local effects.

Fortunately, our fate is not determined by the actions of those in the White House. We have a part to play in addressing fossil fuels todayNow is the time to demand our local leaders take immediate and decisive action to prevent any fossil fuel export projects from ever coming to Tacoma, period.

Here’s where you come in. Please contact your local elected officials and tell them we need to act now to prohibit future fossil fuel export projects.

Call, email, write letters. Make it impossible to be ignored. Below are some links to contact info for elected leaders in the City and Port of Tacoma. Let’s take our future into our own hands!

First priority: email Mayor of Tacoma Marilyn Strickland

Second priority: call your Tacoma City Council representative

Your message can be as simple as this:

Dear [Elected Official],

With President Trump endangering our community’s future by rolling back climate protections, we need to take action at the local level. Please advance local action to prohibit fossil fuel exports now – not a year from now.

Thank you,

[Your Name]

If we want long-term sustainability and prosperity, we can’t continue to fight off threat after threat as they knock on our door. We need proactive regulations to keep them out for good. Not only is this possible, it’s essential for the future of Tacoma.


Ryan Cruz
Conservation Engagement Coordinator 
Citizens for a Healthy Bay

535 Dock Street, Suite 213
Tacoma, WA 98402
253-383-2429 | W 

Proposed “Beyond the Crest RV Park”, Graham, WA

This proposed, very high-density 237-site RV Park development, would be located on the Orting-Kapowsin Highway, in a rural, forested, R-10 zoning.

Below are facts and notes the local residents want you to know about, and on which they certainly could use your support!  Contact Patty Villa by emailing her:

Info/Notes from Patty Villa, representative neighborhood spokesperson:

-          Currently, this area is a very quiet neighborhood, with its native trees and vegetation dominating.

-          Neighbors are on well water- with common single source aquifer serving the area. 

-          Graham Community Plan allows this only on a “small scale” in R10 zoned areas to serve tourism. This is not small scale and does not support tourism as it is the farthest point in Plan area from tourist activities.  Surrounding neighbors are on large, treed lots.  

-          There is inadequate ingress/egress at a dangerous location on Orting Kapowsin Highway.

-          There is no enforcement of the requirement that RV’s can only be there for a limited (short) stay.

-          Graham LUAC failed to address non-compliance with the Community Plan of this proposed development. It is not small scale, it is not in conformity with the character of the rest of the area, it does not leave a tree canopy, it is far too large- too intense a development- for an R10 area.

-          Graham LUAC failed to take into consideration the public comments when making its recommendation to the county (they had a recommendation pre-written and brought to the hearing- before the public had a chance to speak about their many concerns).  This is unethical.

-          Over 50 people crowded into the fire station – standing room only, but their concerns were not addressed or acknowledged by the Graham LUAC.

-          The failure of the LUAC to consider public testimony at the only public hearing is a breach of trust with the public. County Councilman Dan Roach agreed that this was improper and recommended that LUAC’s get more training on their jobs.

-          Graham LUAC recommended to deny the proposed development based on “an incomplete application”. This leaves this inappropriate development wide open for completion once application is complete.

-          The LUAC did not require that they

o        1) do something else with sewage,

o        2) did not ask for improvements to the road way/access,

o        3) did not ask that it be reduced in size to fit the community character or the requirements in the community plan that it be “small scale”,

o        4) did not require larger water pipes to enable proper “Fire Flow” in case of emergency,

o        5) did not consider the impact on the natural habitat of local wildlife- including protected species of small brown bat, etc.

-          Human waste is proposed to be dumped onsite with the sewage effluent sprayed on the ground, onto available pervious surfaces.

-          This development is right above a neighborhood, community well.  The cost for additional water treatment would fall on existing neighbors, not developers. Their septic effluent will likely negatively impact the neighbors and the entire ecosystem.

-          This is a highly unsustainable plan for sewage and gray water handling.  There is no sewer hookup available in this rural area, and no space adequate for a septic field to handle this potential volume.

-          Healthy wildlife population regularly traverses this forested land, including a local elk herd, deer, bear, brown bats, and more.  No consideration is given for their ability to get to and from their habitat areas.  Once cut off from their habitat, they become isolated and significantly at risk.

Call to Action:

Please consider writing a letter to Pierce County. Letters to the hearings examiner need to include the name of the proposal and number.

"Beyond the Crest RV Park" number 830162, 830163, 830165

Letters can be sent to Christian Shope ( ; 253-798-7122) 

In methanol autopsy, city’s business leaders see an unclear future at Port of Tacoma

By Adam Ashton

Pierce County Councilman Rick Talbert had flashbacks as he watched the implosion of Northwest Innovation Works’ bid to build a methanol plant at the Port of Tacoma.

It took him back to a campaign on the Tacoma City Council a dozen years ago that stymied a condominium development near the port over fears that a residential project would slowly undermine Pierce County’s manufacturing core.

His side won, putting up obstacle after obstacle until developer Mike Cohen sold land on the east side of Foss Waterway and moved on to his project at Point Ruston.

This time, the pro-industry coalition that blocked Cohen’s condo proposal could not buy enough time for Northwest Innovation Works to even finish its environmental review despite the promise of more than 200 hundred jobs at the port and a significant boost to local property, sales and business taxes.

Now Talbert is among the local business and political leaders who are trying to figure out what the project’s failure portends for the future of Pierce County’s industrial hub.

They don’t say they want a new methanol plant, but they’re looking for a way to maintain the port’s historic role as a job-generating sector while also respecting the priorities of the environmental activists who rallied to block Northwest Innovation Works.

Talbert, who supported the completion of the methanol plant’s environmental review but was neutral on the plant itself, said the area’s economy is at stake.

“Our community is one that was built on industrial jobs, and as far as I’m concerned, our future is still in that area. We need to be working to promote good, industrial, family-wage jobs,” Talbert said.

In the wake of the methanol plant’s demise, business groups around Tacoma are talking about conducting an educational campaign to stress the port’s importance. Tacoma City Council members, meanwhile, are floating the idea of imposing new land-use regulations on the port so they can shape the kind of business proposals that may move forward.

And leaders at the port say they want to hear from the public before they begin in earnest to seek a new development proposal for the long-vacant, 90-acre former Kaiser Aluminum smelter site eyed by Northwest Innovation Works.

They don’t want a repeat of the public relations debacle Northwest Innovation Works ignited.

“I don’t know what the expectation of the public is,” port Chief Executive Officer John Wolfe said. “I think we’re still trying to sort that out, and the best way for us to do that is to create some forums in which we have some further outreach to the public so we understand what their expectations are.”

The surprise he and other port leaders have expressed in recent months reflects the failure of a project that came to Tacoma with the backing of Gov. Jay Inslee and that fit the industrial zoning requirements for a large site inside the port, usually signs that a proposal would sail through the development process.

If you have a community that’s against everything, it’s awfully hard to recruit businesses that want to come here.

Port of Tacoma Commissioner Don Johnson

Like Wolfe, activists who protested the Northwest Innovation Works proposal say they’re retrenching as they gather ideas about what they’d like to see at the port.

“We are looking at all of his, hoping for a new vision,” said Claudia Riedener of the anti-methanol group Red Line Tacoma. “We are for jobs, but we want something (environmentally) sustainable.”

Although Northwest Innovation Works had cited public uproar for its decision in February to put the project’s environmental review on hold, the company insisted last week that mass protests did not weigh on its decision to cancel it. But port proponents worry the activists may have left a lasting imprint.

“If you have a community that’s against everything, it’s awfully hard to recruit businesses that want to come here,” Port Commissioner Don Johnson said. “Manufacturing is what pays. We want all the stuff people make, but we want them to make it someplace else. It is concerning to a new company that wants to come to town.”

Focus on fossil fuels

  Approximately 100 demonstrators attended a rally outside the Greater Tacoma Trade & Convention Center Tacoma in February, opposing the proposed methanol plant. Officials who withdrew the proposal say protesters didn’t affect the decision. Drew Perine

At a minimum, the project’s failure may reinforce a signal that fossil fuel-dependent enterprises face serious political obstacles if they plan to develop sites in the Northwest.

Wolfe noted that the methanol protests closely followed last summer’s activism targeting Shell Oil’s plan to dock an Arctic drilling rig at the Port of Seattle. Energy-related industries likely took notice of both developments, he said.

Northwest Innovation Works’ proposal included significant water and energy use, potentially consuming 10 million gallons of water a day in the production of methanol for plastics manufacturers based in China.

It also could have delivered millions of dollars in new tax revenue to the city and Pierce County, as well as potentially reduced greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale by offsetting dirtier coal-fired methanol production in China. The city of Tacoma, for example, is staring at a deficit of $3 million to $10 million dollars as it heads into its budget-writing season early this summer.

At city hall, Councilmen Ryan Mello and Robert Thoms want to get ahead of the next port development proposal by organizing joint meetings between the City Council and the Port Commission to set a shared vision for the city’s industrial future. Both plan to work with City Manager T.C. Broadnax, and they may turn to the city Planning Commission early on.

Last week, they joined in a unanimous vote at the council adopting a new environmental action plan for Tacoma. It calls on the city to take steps to reduce water use, cut greenhouse gas emissions and employ more solar panels in producing energy.

“We’re not going to have coffee shops and condos in the middle of the Port of Tacoma, but here’s the thing, industry doesn’t have to be antithetical to health or sustainability,” said Councilman Anders Ibsen.

I’m of the mind that we want to have jobs that aren’t of our polluting past, and we have an opportunity to be really clear about the kinds of jobs we want.

Tacoma City Councilman Ryan Mello

Thoms in March wrote an opinion column in The News Tribune in which he argued the city may want a “less industrial” future at the port. He had earlier suggested that the city could stop the methanol project by rezoning the property. Such suggestions — as well as the length of the environmental review process and the complexity of developing a brownfield — were the reasons Godley cited for the cancellation.

Mello had maintained a neutral stance on the proposal until Northwest Innovation Works’ announcement last week. Now, he’s more outspoken about considering new land-use regulations for the port.

“I’m of the mind that we want to have jobs that aren’t of our polluting past, and we have an opportunity to be really clear about the kinds of jobs we want,” he said, listing aerospace manufacturing as the kind of business proposal that may work well at the port.

Resistance to rezoning


Other council members say the failure of the methanol proposal may have effectively set land-use policy without the imposition of new planning rules. They’re wary of placing new regulations on industrial land, and they say the political uproar would not necessarily carry over to a new project.

“You had a major player take a look at it and see that it’s not feasible. With them withdrawing, them saying an urban, industrial area is not the right area, they’ve already through precedent reset land use-policy in the port,” City Councilman Marty Campbell said.

Councilman Joe Lonergan said the city should be open to many kinds of proposals for the Kaiser site. He said the port has been looking for a business to develop it for than a decade, and it has not yet found a workable proposal.

The city’s two main business lobbies, the Economic Development Board and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, likewise are reluctant to rezone industrial land in the port.

“We don’t want to rezone and lose our industrial lands,” Chamber President Tom Pierson said.

Those groups are aiming to get the public more familiar with the kind of work that takes place at the port now so residents have a sense of what modern manufacturing looks like. Both groups will have a seat at the table as boosters for local industry if the City Council and Port Commission take steps to set guidelines for the kind of businesses they want to recruit for the Kaiser site.

They say the vacant site remains an attractive one because of its access to a deep water port and rail lines. Within the next 13 years, a $2 billion extension to state Route 167 should improve access for trucks, too.

“The opportunity is ripe because we don’t have a specific project in front of us right now that can get in the way of that conversation, so that’s the silver lining, Economic Development Board president Bruce Kendall said. “There’s nothing to fight over.”

Yes, there was public pressure, but I’ll go back to Northwest Innovation Works’ own statements. They say that didn’t factor in their decision. It really isn’t a stretch for me to believe that Northwest Innovation Works wasn’t that concerned with public opinion. I will take them at their word that this was a business decision.

Tacoma City Councilman Marty Campbell

More outreach next time

Wolfe and port commissioners say they have not yet set a meeting with the City Council members, although they said they’re open to one. They’re also looking for ways to engage with residents early on so they’re not blindsided again by protests late in a development process.

That may mean embracing social media. The port followed state open government law in advancing the methanol proposal, and The News Tribune wrote about the project several times over the past two years, but it did not capture the public’s attention until last fall.

“We’re going to go over and above, whatever we do. The last thing we want to do is to make it seem like we are hiding something from the community, because we never did,” Port Commissioner Dick Marzano said.

Marzano questioned whether some of the port’s longtime businesses, such as a pulp mill and an oil refinery, would be able to start their business permits in the face of the activism Northwest Innovation Works sparked.

He’s concerned the next round may focus on Puget Sound Energy’s proposal to build a liquid natural gas production and peak-shaving site at the port. He says it’s an environmentally friendly project because it will make comparably clean LNG available to ships passing through the port that normally run on diesel. Some members of Red Line Tacoma, the group that drew attention to the methanol plant, have already turned their attention to opposing the PSE proposal.

In the methanol autopsy, port supporters across the spectrum said backers of the next proposal will have to answer questions from the public more effectively than Northwest Innovation Works did. That’s why they say the activism that seemed to slow and then kill the methanol plan may not carry over to the next proposal.

“Yes, there was public pressure, but I’ll go back to Northwest Innovation Works’ own statements. They say that didn’t factor in their decision. It really isn’t a stretch for me to believe that Northwest Innovation Works wasn’t that concerned with public opinion. I will take them at their word that this was a business decision,” Campbell said.

Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646, @TNTMilitary

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