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Tacoma land use administrator approves application to renovate fire boat station on Ruston Way, add garage for fire truck

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on June 13, 2012 at 4:55 pm with No Comments »
June 13, 2012 5:00 pm

The application for a shoreline development permit was made by city officials who want to restore the old fire station on Ruston Way and turn it into a police and fire marine safety center. The issue before land use administrator Jana Magoon was whether the project fit in a shoreline area, based on state law and the city’s own development rules.

In her decision, Magoon said that it did fit and approved the shoreline permit but set some conditions that must be met before construction permits can be issued. The most significant is that Tacoma must negotiate a lease for the overwater areas from the state Department of Natural Resources, a permit the city had allowed to lapse.

Once the conditions are met, the city can begin work on a station that would accommodate the city’s fire boats and police boat. The fire boats, docked at the station until it was closed 12 years ago during an earlier budget shortfall, are now docked in the Foss Waterway and staffed by crews based at a nearby station.

The $3 million project is funded partly by a federal grant aimed at Homeland Security. There are also proceeds from an earlier city bond sale for construction projects.

The project had some opposition from neighbors, both for noise and light disruptions and because it also calls for the construction of a new building on the uplands that could allow the facility to become a new fire station. A fire station for trucks is not a water-dependent use, they argued.

Magoon found that the addition of an apparatus bay for truck parking is related to the marine-safety use, a use that is allowed in the shorelines. But she required that all lighting be aimed away from the residences on the hillside above the station. She also required the city to submit a revised landscaping plan that meets the city’s own code.

In comments to the administrator, the city stated it would use sirens only when needed to protect the public and emergency vehicles and would conduct marine training away from the moorage to reduce noise.

The city also told Magoon that fire crews would not be stationed at the facility for now but that could change as fire staffing needs change.

Those who disagree with the decision, and who have standing under land use rules, can ask for reconsideration. Any “aggrieved person” as defined by city code can appeal to the city hearings examiner.

The decision is available here.

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