Preserving Rare Prairie Habitat: The NorthPoint Rezone Request … and How You Can Help
By Sue Danver – As outlined in the June issue of Echo, the Missouri development company, NorthPoint, is seeking to rezone to industrial the 745-acre parcel owned by the Port of Tacoma (POT), but located near Maytown, Thurston County. The company has made a contingent offer to purchase this parcel in order to build a 6-million square-foot warehouse complex and cargo transfer center adjacent to the West Rocky Prairie preserve owned by WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
In order to protect rare prairie, oak, and wetland habitat and species on this property, BHAS opposes this development. We plan to pursue both educational and legal efforts. We encourage you to help by contacting the Thurston County Commissioners (see email addresses and phone numbers below; even if you signed the online petition, personal emails or phone messages can carry more weight), writing letters to the editor of The Olympian or other media outlets, and raising the issue at meetings and other gatherings of organizations with which you are involved.
Many citizens, including at least five of us from BHAS, testified at the POT Commission meeting on June 13 concerning a proposed postponement of NorthPoint’s purchase and sale agreement deadline — a postponement that would give Thurston County time to process NorthPoint’s rezoning application first. All testimony, except one from NorthPoint, opposed postponement and/or urged sale instead to WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, which has sought to buy the parcel for over two decades. Arguments ranged from expected damage to threatened and endangered species on the WDFW preserve, danger to water supplies for neighbors, and damage to the rural quality of life with a noisy, industrial hub. Despite all the opposing testimony, the POT Commissioners voted, with only two brief comments, to approve NorthPoint’s request for postponement.
During the coming months we plan to provide information on the many reasons we believe this rare prairie land, situated in a rural setting, should be preserved and combined with that already preserved by WDFW rather than be opened to industrial development. We are investigating enforcement of the Settlement Agreement that BHAS signed with the then owner of the land in question, as well as scientific arguments based on threatened species and the water levels to which they are sensitive. At the same time, we expect that public expression of citizen concern supporting environmental protection and/or sale of the land to WDFW can be most effective in convincing the County to do what its citizens want: uphold the current, citizen-initiated zoning of the Rocky Prairie parcel.
Contact information for Board of County Commissioners:
Commissioner John Hutchings: firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Gary Edwards: email@example.com
Commissioner Tye Menser: firstname.lastname@example.org
Comm. Hutchings: 360-357-2470
Comm. Edwards: 360-786-5747
Comm. Menser: 360-786-5414