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Tag: land use


Tacoma: Big box moratorium to continue, but WalMart will avoid it

Tacoma’s temporary ban on new big box stores will continue, but the controversial Wal-Mart proposal that sparked the city’s moratorium in the first place will no longer be affected by it.

Instead, under an amended version of the box store moratorium approved by the City Council’s 6 to 3 vote Tuesday, the Wal-Mart Supercenter planned for the sprawling Elks’ property in Central Tacoma can move ahead through the city’s development process.

Several council members said Tuesday while they didn’t necessarily like it, the city’s hands were effectively tied. The WalMart application already had been deemed complete and was “vested” when the council’s original moratorium kicked in on Sept. 1, they said. That meant the development was destined to happen, moratorium or not.

“Yeah, a lot of us are frustrated,” Councilman David Boe told a crowd who showed up at Tuesday’s meeting to denounce the planned WalMart. “It’s not unique to the audience — this is a frustrating situation.”

Still, Boe said the city’s land use code, which the moratorium seeks to allow the time to review and update, is legally bound to be “company blind.” and apply fairly to all applicants.

“I know a lot of people don’t want to hear that,” said Boe, who helped draft the amended moratorium. “…But I think this is fair and looks at our code objectively.”

Some opponents of the measure said they appreciated the council’s efforts, but vowed to continue to fight the project. They’ll key on state environmental policy act requirements, they said.

“We’ll try to fight it that way,” said Tricia DeOme, president of the Central Neighborhood Council. “I know (council members are) scared of lawsuits and there weren’t the votes, so there was no reason for us to fight them about this.’
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Tacoma: Council’s moratorium on big box stores may not affect Walmart

Two weeks ago, when concerns flared that Walmart was eyeing the Elks property in Central Tacoma, the City Council quickly approved a six-month moratorium on big box retailers, in part to halt the project.

But the council’s temporary ban may not thwart Walmart’s plans after all – thanks to a state law that requires print publication of ordinances before they can take effect.

“There’s a question now of whether (the moratorium) applies or not,” Councilman Jake Fey said Friday.

The council approved its emergency moratorium ordinance to halt any new applications or permits for “retail establishments that exceed 65,000 square feet” on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

But legal publication of the new ordinance in the city’s newspaper of record didn’t occur until Thursday, Sept. 1.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Aug. 31, Walmart representatives officially submitted a development application for a 150,000-square-foot Super Center on the Tacoma Elks Lodge site.

Whether the city will seek to impose the terms of its big box ban on the Walmart proposal now appears to be a legal question squarely in the city’s court.

“That’s one of the things we are looking at while reviewing the application,” city spokesman Rob McNair-Huff said Monday.

Neither City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli nor her top deputy, Bill Fosbre, returned phone calls Monday.
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Northshore appeal goes before Tacoma City Council tonight

The Tacoma City Council is set to hear tonight an appeal from developers seeking to overturn a city hearing examiner’s decision earlier this year that denied a controversial proposal to build hundreds of homes over the North Shore Golf Course in Northeast Tacoma.

Attorneys for developers Northshore Investors LLC have filed two appeals in the case – one to the Tacoma City Council, the other to Pierce County Superior Court. The appeals contend hearing examiner Wick Dufford had no legal standing for his denials and recommendations earlier this year against the developers’ land use application. Council members will hold a formal hearing on the appeal before them tonight, while the separate court appeal remains pending.

(We’ve written extensively about the project and its subsequent legal wranglings, most recently here and here.)

Opponents of the project, primarily neighborhood residents who formed the Save NE Tacoma group to fight the development, are expected to show up en masse at tonight’s City Council meeting. The group’s website promotes tonight’s hearing as “The Final City Council Meeting” on the issue, and it reminds people to: “TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS WE NEED EVERYONE IN THE COUNCIL CHAMBERS.”

But if anyone is expecting to publicly speak on the matter tonight, they’ll be disappointed.
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City won’t appeal ruling on West End synagogue

The city won’t appeal a hearing examiner’s recent decision that cleared the way for a controversial synagogue to be built in Tacoma’s West End, Tacoma City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli told me Tuesday.

The city’s decision not to appeal likely means Rodney M. Kerslake’s Mar. 25 ruling — which reversed the city’s denials of zoning variances needed for Chabad of Pierce County to proceed with construction of the proposed synagogue on North Mildred Street — will stand.

“You only have certain grounds for challenging a hearing examiner’s decision,” Pauli told me in a phone call today, when further explaining the city’s legal decision. “There must be a mistake of law or the lack of evidence of fact…We didn’t see a strong case.”

The news came as disappointment to the West End Neighborhood Council. The council had fought the Orthodox Jewish group’s synagogue proposal on behalf of dozens of West End residents, who primarily opposed the structure’s size. The council says it will formally request Kerslake to reconsider his ruling.
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