The Thurston County Commissioners voted unanimously to move a rezoning issue to the Official Docket of Comprehensive Plan amendments, after receiving 155 public comments against the rezoning.
At issue is a private citizen’s request to rezone 390 acres of farmland just off the Maytown exit on Interstate 5 to Rural Resource Industrial Zoning. The rezoning would be to accommodate the construction of a warehouse, according to the application to put the rezoning on the docket.
The three commissioners divulged differing views on the potential warehouse project — which has many more hoops to jump through before any construction could begin — but they agreed on one thing: if the project has any adverse effects, the process needs to move forward for them to be found.
To be put on the Official Docket means that a project or other matter will be subject to studies, scrutiny and public comment. Commissioner Carolina Mejia said moving an item to the docket is step four of 19.
“I want to make that clear to the public, this is not the end of the discussion. This is just the very start,” Mejia said. She added later: “This is privately owned land, and I think the private owner should have the chance to see what his options are. … At least we should see if this is even a viable option for him.”
Commissioner Tye Menser said he isn’t a fan of warehouse projects, and has opposed them in the past. However, he favored studying the impacts of the project.
“One of the commenters again said, I quote, what are the impacts of this proposal for the aquifer of Beaver Creek, traffic and air pollution? Unquote. Well, that’s exactly what I want to know, too,” Menser said.
Commissioner Gary Edwards likewise favored looking at the possible effects of the project, while noting he felt the project would be a good thing for economic development.
The public comment portion was open from Feb. 16 through March 19. In that time, commissioners received 155 comments against the rezoning and seven in favor.
Some themes of the comments opposed to the project were concerns that it doesn’t align with the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan and that it violates the Growth Management Act. Others were concerned about the effects on water quality and local wildlife, saying the land is a notable wildlife corridor.
The Growth Management Act requires local governments to protect critical areas and natural resources. The commissioners noted that such possibilities should be among the first issues looked at, so if there are any violations, they’ll be found before more resources are spent on the analysis.
Comments in favor said the location next to the freeway is a good spot for a project like this. They felt it would be a good source of tax revenue, and that stopping cattle and livestock from grazing the area will reduce contamination to Beaver Creek.
Commissioners will vote to formalize the Official Docket at an upcoming meeting. There are currently 21 items on the docket that are ahead of this item.