BHAS Meets the Challenge to Protect West Rocky Prairie
A month ago, BHAS learned that a Missouri company (NorthPoint) that designs and builds logistics centers and warehouses had applied to Thurston County for a rezone on the 745-acre parcel bordering the North and East boundaries of West Rocky Prairie. The company asked to change the zoning from (timber and gravel activities) and 1/20-residential to industrial. This property is 1/2 mile southeast of Millersylvania State Park. BHAS attended a county briefing on April 3 and learned that up to 6 million square feet of warehousing might be built at the site. In 2005 BHAS signed a Settlement Agreement on how gravel mining would be conducted on 284 acres of the 745 acres in exchange for the developer selling West Rocky Prairie, on the south and west border, to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. In the future, according to the Agreement, when mining was completed, 500 acres of the mine area would be reclaimed to trees, wetlands, lakes and transitional lands around these natural features.
BHAS has provided comments on this zoning request that allowing this development would break the Settlement Agreement and the conditions of the mine’s Special Use Permit. In addition, this area’s high water table and an increase in impervious surface could alter normal surface water patterns and affect the sensitive critical areas on the 800-acre WDFW West Rocky Prairie Preserve. The Federally Threatened Oregon Spotted Frog lives in wetlands adjacent to the proposed industrial site. Our consulting hydrogeologist’s 7-year study suggests the water changes could threaten the Threatened frog. Wetland birds and prairie butterflies could be negatively affected as well.
At a future meeting, County Commissioners will discuss this complicated issue and whether they will put this industrial zoning request on this year’s Comprehensive Plan amendment docket. We have urged the Commissioners to reject NorthPoint’s ‘special’ industrial zoning request as it would likely bump many local citizens’ projects, that were selected in 2018 to be completed by the end of 2019, into 2020. Please attend the Tuesday, May 7, 8 a.m. Commissioner meeting to show that this community wants to protect West Rocky Prairie from becoming an industrial area like that on I-5 near the Port of Tacoma.