The Hearing Examiner for the City of Lacey recently issued a recommendation to allow construction of the Meridian Market Gas Station project in northeast Lacey despite resident concerns. The City received hundreds of comments, with the vast majority opposing the gas station. Most of the people in the community do not oppose a market or other business on the site.
But the decision to allow a gas station, which will be owned by people who do not live in the area, will be made by others who do not live in the area.
People live in Meridian Campus because of the safe, walkable, attractive environment, not because a gas station is so close by. The area has easy access to the I-5 corridor and related services. There are at least seven existing gas stations convenient to the community; there is no local outcry for another.
The gas station would be less than 50 feet from Meridian Neighborhood Park and the City-protected William Ives trail. It would also be in the walk path to a middle school, and at a busy intersection used by both vehicles and pedestrians. Residents have legitimate health and safety concerns.
The Federal Way developers own Market Analysis acknowledged, “For the food and convenience store to work, it is essential to sell gas at this location…. the sale of gas also brings financing... “
It is disturbing that developers can get $1.5 million+ in loans to build an unneeded gas station but not a loan to build a food market.
City Council members will ultimately decide whether to allow a dubious business proposition that will impact the community for decades to come. The experience serves as a cautionary tale for every Lacey neighborhood and Homeowners Association with undeveloped parcels. Here are ten lessons learned about the economic development process.
Now you might think that a gas station on a neighborhood “Commercial” lot adjacent to a busy intersection would also be prohibited. Not so fast! Per City of Lacey zoning, a gas station at a busy intersection in a residential neighborhood, across from a City park and in the walk zone for school kids and other pedestrians, is just fine as long as the developer has deep enough pockets to meets all the conditions.
As a resident whose neighborhood will be changed for decades, all you can do now is hope that diligent City Council members will visit your neighborhood before they vote.
You can hope they ask: Would I want a gas station so close to my home? Hope they ask if the project is truly needed.
Would they want their children passing the project on their way to and from school or the playground?
Would they want their property values to be negatively impacted?
Would they be concerned about traffic, health, and environmental safety if they or their loved ones lived close to the project?
Elaine Briggs is a resident of Lacey and lives within blocks of the proposed new gas station in Hawks Prairie.
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