Public hearing set for contentious West Bay Drive development project in Olympia

The March 23 Zoom meeting might affect a city council decision to consider a development agreement on March 30

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A public hearing is scheduled at 5:30 on Tuesday, March 23 for a large development project planned along West Bay Drive that would bring housing and business development opportunities to the water’s edge.

The project — called the West Bay Yards Development — hasn’t been without controversy, after the local organization Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation expressed concern over multiple effects that could be caused by the massive development, including effects for the local ecosystem and wildlife. The group has already appealed a decision from the city saying an environmental review wasn’t necessary at the project’s current stage.

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. As of now, however, the city hasn’t issued any permits for builders to break ground. Rather, city council members are scheduled to consider a development agreement during their March 30 meeting. First, however, the public gets to weigh in on the project.  

The hearing will be conducted over Zoom. Anyone interested can attend here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kPSZlD29TnmIcVhB4sf3Rg

Clicking on the link allows you to register for the meeting in advance and will allow you to indicate whether you want to make a public comment. Additionally, written statements can be submitted to the Olympia Community Planning and Development Department at P.O. Box 1967, Olympia, WA 98507-1967.

If you require special accommodations to attend and/or participate in the meeting, contact Community Planning & Development Department by 10 a.m., 48 hours in advance of the date or earlier, if possible. They can be reached by phone at 360-753-8314 or email at cpdinfo@ci.olympia.wa.us. For hearing impaired, dial the Washington State Relay Service at 7-1-1 or 1-800-833-6384.

The project has drawn ire from OCEP, who, in a statement, expressed concerns about the project’s proximity to water and risk for further contamination to an area that has already been highly compromised by pollutants.

They 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 the statement in part.

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