Nisqually Tribe officials spoke with the Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday, November 8, to discuss the possibility of the county allowing the tribe to handle its own building permits in tribally-owned land.
Tribal officials told the board that they have the capacity to handle their own permitting now that they have their own buildings department.
Building Department Director Wayne Lloyd of the tribe said that his department has been conducting inspections for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, which it had not done previously.
Nisqually Tribe Electrical Project Manager Mike Elliott added that the tribe has its own building inspector and permitting manager. It also has a memorandum of understanding with the state, which allows the tribe to train and obtain licenses for its electricians.
Lloyd said his department is hoping to do its permitting for a 60-acre property it bought near Lake Saint Clair where they have built a horse ranch. He said they intend to build a horse arena, barns, and other buildings on the property.
Development Services Manager Brett Bures from the county told the board that he has been in jurisdictions that have similar agreements with other tribes, so an arrangement such as that being requested by the Nisqually Tribe would not be uncommon.
He went on to say that the county and tribe will need to work on the details of the proposed agreement, as building permits might also necessitate other improvements on nearby roads and utilities. Commissioner Carolina Mejia also brought up environmental considerations, such as the placement of a septic system.
Commissioner Tye Menser recalled that the county wanted to pursue a similar arrangement with Lacey for its urban growth area. An agreement with the city did not manifest as county staff presented several problems.
The commission advised the tribe to limit the scope of the agreement they seek. Mejia also supported launching a pilot program to see how the arrangement could work out.
The county will follow up on the tribe’s request with its prosecuting attorney's office to review the possibility of such an agreement.
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