Prior to what’s sure to be a lively public hearing tomorrow for a potential large development along West Bay Drive, one member of the Olympia City Council announced he will vote against a development agreement between developers and the city.
Councilperson Clark Gilman, in a statement released Sunday, said he will vote against the development agreement after reading more than 100 emails from constituents concerned about the project.
The city council will consider approving a development agreement between West Bay Yard Development Group LLC and the city. At tomorrow’s regularly scheduled city council meeting starting at 5:30 p.m., there will be a public hearing regarding the pending agreement. This is a link to the meeting announcement.
The project as currently planned includes 478 market-rate rental housing units in five mixed-use buildings and 20,500 square-feet of business and recreational space located at 1210 West Bay Drive.
The project has drawn ire from local organization Olympia Coalition for Ecosystem Preservation (OCEP). OCEP has publicly expressed numerous concerns about the sweeping project, among them the effects it would have on the local ecosystem.
In his statement, Gilman said the city council has “the power to wait, to learn more specifics, and to insist that mitigations are negotiated before we approve an agreement.”
“Other cities in Western Washington have heard more details from developers and responses from the community and regulatory agencies before considering similar development agreements. We owe it to ourselves to do the same here in Olympia,” Gilman wrote in the statement.
The development agreement would lock into place current land use regulations at the site for 15 years. Although, even with the land use in place, the developers will still need to apply for permits to begin construction.
“I agree with the many people who wrote to say that we don’t have enough certainty about the impacts of the project to carefully consider granting the developer a 15-year window to develop under today’s Land Use regulations,” Gilman wrote.
OCEP previously opposed a decision from city staff that waived a requirement for an environmental impact statement (EIS) through the issuance of a determination of non-significance (DNS). OCEP, through its attorney, argued there was enough known about the project at this point to conduct a study on how the project would affect the ecosystem. Their appeal, however, was overturned by a hearing examiner.
“As a community, we must look into the future and act upon the interconnectedness of our natural and human ecosystems, asking the right questions of ourselves and our constituents such that our great-grandchildren inherit a sustainable and livable future. By asking the City staff to withdraw its DNS for the Development Agreement and by calling for an EIS for the West Bay Yards project, OCEP requests that our representative local government ask the right questions before it commits to any agreement with the proponent,” reads a statement from OCEP, in part.
The hearing will be conducted over Zoom. Anyone interested can attend here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kPSZlD29TnmIcVhB4sf3Rg