Friends of Pierce County


News

From PenMet Parks: 

In September, 2017, PenMet Parks held an Open House to share the status and results to-date for the 2018 Comprehensive Parks Recreation and Open Space Plan Update.

 

The open house attendees submitted additional comments as they reviewed the materials.  If you missed the meeting, you can comment, too.

Use this link to review the Open House Display Boards, and then submit comments by e-mail to either:

Steve Duh - Steve@ConservationTechnix.com  -or-

Eric Guenther - EGuenther@PenMetParks.org

 

Be sure to submit your 3 priorities (and only 3) from the following list:

(Paste these priorities, for ranking, into the e-mail reply)

(1-first; 2-second; and 3-third priority; place number 1, 2, or 3 to left of item)     

                ALL-WEATHER SPORT FIELDS & LIGHTING

                WATERFRONT ACCESS & BOAT LAUNCHES

                NEW PARKLAND ACQUISITIONS

                NATURAL OPEN SPACE PRESERVATION

                PLAYGROUNDS & SPLASHPADS

                TRAIL CONNECTIONS

                EXPANDING RECREATION PROGRAMS

                INDOOR SPORT COURTS & FIELDS

 

Any other comments:

 

Please reply by October 23, 2017.

 

Thanks

 

Eric Guenther

253-858-3400 x1222

Cell 253-255-1098


From the Pierce County Local Emergency Planning Committee: 

Get excited about a visit from the Washington State Department of Ecology!  They will be presenting on the relatively new Puyallup/White basin Geographic Response Plan which is a more tactical response plan outlining boat ramps, boom launch locations, staging areas, and sensitive areas to consider protecting.  The plan is a part of a larger effort to provide key pieces of information to local responders in the event of an oil spill specifically around a train derailment. The project was initiated by the new movement of oil via train through our communities, however with the number of bridges in our county, this information could apply to many scenarios.

The meeting is open to all!

Below is a link to the plan:
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/preparedness/GRP/Puyallup-WhiteRivers/PWR-GRP.pdf


PUBLIC HEARINGS BY THE PIERCE COUNTY HEARING EXAMINER

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


WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2017


HEARING TIME: 9:00 A.M.

The following case was continued from August 2, 2017

Project: Revocation:       Kings Manor Phase II PDD/ADR116-05 Application: 824476

Online Address:                     https://palsonline.co.pierce.wa.us/palsonline/#/permitSearch/permit/departmentStatus?applPermitId=824476 

Applicant:                              Kings Manor Planner: Robert Jenkins, rjenkin@co.pierce.wa.us

Request:                                 Hearing to discuss whether the applicant has proceeded in a “reasonable and consistent manner” per the Examiner’s February 7, 2017 letter. The site is in the Residential/Office-Civic (ROC) and Neighborhood Center (NC) zone classifications, located at 8609 Portland Ave. E., Tacoma, WA, in Council District #5.




HEARING TIME:                10:00 A.M., OR AS SOON THEREAFTER AS POSSIBLE: 

Project:                                   Tri-Annual Review / Time Extension: Falling Water Preliminary Plat / Planned Development District

Application:                           862506

Online Address:                    https://palsonline.co.pierce.wa.us/palsonline/#/permitSearch/permit/departmentStatus?applPermitId=862506

Applicant:                             Capri Investments LLC Planner: Robert Jenkins, rjenkin@co.pierce.wa.us

Request:                               Fifth Tri-Annual Review of the Falling Water Preliminary Plat (PP)/Planned Development District (PDD), required per Condition No. 60 of the April 28, 1997, and June 3, 1997, original decisions and Condition No. 70 of the March 20, 2003, Major Amendment. The applicant is requesting a 21st year extension of the 1997 PP/PDD approval. The applicant is proposing to: 1) reduce the number of dwelling units from 979 lots to 592; and 2) eliminate the multi-family, commercial and golf course components of the development. An additional 261 single-family lots are proposed to the west of the existing home areas. The existing 26 lots used as community drainfields would be converted into utility tracts. The site is vested under the General Use (G) zone classification on the western 32-acre parcel and Suburban Agriculture (SA10.2) on the eastern 417 acres, as of the May 14, 1993 application date. The current zoning is Rural 10 (R10) on the western 32-acre parcel and Rural 5 (R5) on the eastern 417 acres. The site is located at 11700-12600 Blocks of Falling Water Blvd. East, Bonney Lake, WA, in Council District #1.



HEARING TIME: 1:00 P.M., OR AS SOON THEREAFTER AS POSSIBLE:

The following case was continued from August 2, 2017

Project:                                 Revocation: Leone Addition Preliminary Plat

Application:                         866804

Online Address:                  https://palsonline.co.pierce.wa.us/palsonline/#/permitSearch/permit/departmentStatus?applPermitId=866804

Applicant:                             Planning and Public Works Planner: Marcia Lucero, mlucero@co.pierce.wa.us

Request:                                Revocation of the approved Preliminary Plat of Leone Addition due to violations of the November 7, 2007, Hearing Examiner’s conditions of approval. The plat was reviewed and approved under the High Density Residential District (HRD) zone classification. The current zoning classification is Moderate High Density Residential (MHR). The site is located at 17320 – 82nd Ave. E., Puyallup, WA, in Council District #2.

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


PUBLIC HEARINGS BY THE PIERCE COUNTY HEARING EXAMINER

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

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2017

HEARING TIME: 9:00 A.M.
 
Project:                   Shoreline Substantial Development

Permit:                   Pitt Passage LLC

Applications:         849057, 849058, 850449

Online Address:   https://palsonline.co.pierce.wa.us/palsonline/#/permitSearch/permit/departmentStatus?applPermitId=849057

Applicant:              Pitt Passage LLC

Planner:                 Andrew Van Gordon, avangor@co.pierce.wa.us Request: Shoreline Substantial Development

Permit to:         Remove an existing 144-sq. ft. overwater viewing platform and 4 wood pilings  Construct a 154-ft. long (150 ft. overwater) single-use dock  Install an anchor buoy 370 ft. from the Median Higher High Water mark  Seek approval of a new section of bulkhead built through an emergency shoreline exemption  Replace the existing bulkhead with a new angular rock bulkhead
 
All are accessory to a detached single-family residence, in the Rural Shoreline Environment, Rural 10 (R10) zone classification, and the Key Peninsula Community Plan area, located at 2007 – 142nd Ave. KPS, Lakebay, WA, in Council District #7. 
 
  


HEARING TIME: 10:00 A.M., OR AS SOON THEREAFTER AS POSSIBLE:
 
Project:                Wetland Variance: Thompson

Application:         869773

Online Address: https://palsonline.co.pierce.wa.us/palsonline/#/permitSearch/permit/departmentStatus?applPermitId=869773

Applicant:            David Thompson Planner:  Mary Van Haren, mvanhar@co.pierce.wa.us

Request:               Reduction of the standard 65-ft. buffer of an N2 drainage to a minimum of 17 ft. with a 15-ft. building setback in order to construct a single-family residence. The site is in the Rural 10 (R10) zone classification and Gig Harbor Community Plan area, located at 220 Bella Bella Dr., Fox Island, WA, in Council District #7.



HEARING TIME: 11:00 A.M., OR AS SOON THEREAFTER AS POSSIBLE:
 
Project:                   Shoreline Substantial Development Permit / Shoreline Variance: Comfort 

Applications:         853109, 853110, 854913

Online Address:    https://palsonline.co.pierce.wa.us/palsonline/#/permitSearch/permit/departmentStatus?applPermitId=853109

Applicants:            Sean and Shelley Comfort Planner:  Mojgan Carlson, mcarlso@co.pierce.wa.us

Request:                 The project is to:

1. Retain the existing 155-sq. ft. deck within the required 50-ft. shoreline setback (at its closest point 17 ft. and 1 in. from the bulkhead)

2. Retain the existing 36-ft. long retaining wall, less than 4 ft. in height, within the required 50-ft. shoreline setback (at its closest point 20 ft. from the bulkhead)

3. Retain the existing 20-ft. long by 12-ft. wide concrete boat ramp on the site. 

4. Widen the existing concrete stairs embedded on the boat ramp by one ft. for a total of 2.5 ft. and install a metal handrail on the west side of the stairs for safe access

5. Retain the existing 25-ft. tall flag pole located 4 ft. east and north of the existing bulkhead

6. Retain the existing buoy and 8-ft. by 8-ft. float located waterward of the bulkhead

The proposed project is accessory to the existing single-family residence, on a 0.48-acre parcel, on the west shore of Rocky Bay, in the Rural Shoreline Environment, Rural 10 (R10) zone classification, and the Key Peninsula Community Plan area, located at 11211 - 194th Ave. KPN, Gig Harbor, WA, in Council District #7.
 


 
HEARING TIME: 1:00 P.M., OR AS SOON THEREAFTER AS POSSIBLE:
 
Hearing rescheduled from September 13, 2017
 
Project:                  Administrative Appeal: Mazetis

Application:          866752

Online Address:   https://palsonline.co.pierce.wa.us/palsonline/#/permitSearch/permit/departmentStatus?applPermitId=866752

Appellant:             Jurgen Mazetis CE Officers Stephen Mauer, smauer@co.pierce.wa.us   Yvonne Reed, yreed@co.pierce.wa.us

Request:               Appeal of a Final Notice and Order to Correct, dated June 30, 2017, by a Pierce County Administrative Official. The site is in a Moderate Density Single Family (MSF) zone classification, within the South Hill Community Plan area, located at 12812 – 115th St. E., Puyallup, WA, in Council District #2.
 
 
FINAL PLAT(S)
 
Note: The Hearing Examiner’s decision is final unless appealed. Please call (253) 798-7210 for further information.


We’re less than a week away from the Tacoma City Council’s public hearing to pause new fossil fuels!

Thanks to your hard work, the Tacoma Planning Commission has recommended pausing all new fossil fuel projects and drastically limiting expansions of existing facilities in the Tacoma Tideflats. Now it’s up to the City Council to pass it into law. Their hearing on October 17th is our first opportunity to make this happen, and we need you there.

 

Mark your calendars for the public hearing October 17th and help spread the word.

 

What: City Council public hearing for Tideflats Interim Regulations

When: Hearing starts at 5:15pm on October 17th. Sign up early if you need to speak sooner!

Where: Pantages Theater (901 Broadway, Tacoma, WA 98402)

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2wgj9CI

Please RSVP by emailing me at rcruz@healthybay.org so that I can keep you up-to-date.

 

Here is a Talking Points Handout. Please give it a read and use it as you prepare your own comments for the hearing. We’ll also have a pre-meeting huddle 4pm at Tully’s Coffee (

This opportunity is too important to pass up. Fossil fuels are the most urgent threat to our community, and hitting pause will give us time to work out a long-term solution. Let’s show the City Council that we support the pause!

 

Thank you for all you do, and please let me know if you have any questions.

Ryan Cruz
Conservation Engagement Coordinator 
Citizens for a Healthy Bay

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

Connect with us: Facebook Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | Subscribe to our enews


From the City of Tacoma:

Dear SEPA reviewing agency and other interested parties:

 

Attached is the Reconsidered Decision and Exhibits for the above-noted permit.

 

Changes have been made to conditions on noise monitoring, on-site operations, permit timing, and hours of operation. The decision is being mailed to parties of record today. The file can also be downloaded from http://tacomapermits.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LU16-0230-Coski-Reconsideration-Decision-10_2_17.pdf.

 

Appeals of the Reconsidered Decision must be made to the City’s Hearing Examiner no later than October 9, 2017. If you have already filed an appeal of the original decision, you may choose to modify the appeal; otherwise it will be considered as it stands and all appeals will move forward following October 9.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions.

 

Shirley Schultz

City of Tacoma | Development Services

253-591-5121

shirley.schultz@cityoftacoma.org

www.tacomapermits.org



Volunteer at one of 14 sites throughout Tacoma on Green Tacoma Day!

Next Saturday, October 14th, 2017

10 am – 1 pm

 

The Green Tacoma Partnership invites people of all ages to get outside, have fun and engage in Tacoma’s green spaces.

 

Volunteers will plant trees, remove invasive weeds, connect with the community, and provide a helping hand to our natural areas!

 

No experience is necessary, so bring along your whole family, friends, or just yourself for a fun morning of service.

 

Sign up at greentacomaday.org.


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: www.piercecountywa.org/CPUpdate

 

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 cindy.anderson@co.pierce.wa.us.

 

Tiffany O’Dell

Senior Planner

Pierce County Planning & Public Works

(253)798-6859 | todell@co.pierce.wa.us

 

Krystal Kyer

Planner/Watershed Coordinator

Pierce County Planning and Public Works

(253) 798-2485|kkyer@co.pierce.wa.us 



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 
healthybay.org 

Connect with us: Facebook Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | Subscribe to our enews



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
 



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:  pvgardens@yahoo.com

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 (cshope@co.pierce.wa.us ; 253-798-7122) 

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

By Adam Ashton

aashton@thenewstribune.com

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 dperine@thenewstribune.com

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

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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


Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article73481632.html#storylink=cpy

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