The city of Puyallup continues to push back against the proposed Knutson Farms Industrial Park.
City officials went to court May 25, asking a Thurston County judge to determine whether Puyallup or Pierce County has jurisdiction over the proposed warehouse land.
A ruling has not been handed down, and will take some time, according to Deputy Mayor John Palmer.
The court case was filed in response to two incompatible environmental reviews the city and the county conducted of the proposed warehouse land.
Each appealed the other’s review; the appeals are at a standstill until Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese decides who has jurisdiction over the project.
The city’s legal team filed the complaint in Thurston County as an added precaution.
“To get a more netral decision maker, often it's brought into the adjoining county,” said Joe Beck, city attorney. Pierce County’s next adjoining county is either Thurston or Kitsap counties, he added.
To get a more neutral decision maker, often it's brought into the adjoining county.
Joe Beck, Puyallup attorney
The city also filed an appeal of the county’s approved plat determination for the project last Friday.
The Michelson Organization has proposed building seven buildings, covering 3 million square feet as warehouse space. The project is expected to bring hundreds of warehouse jobs to the area.
The proposed industrial park is east of Shaw Road, south of East Main Avenue, west of the Puyallup River and north of East Pioneer Avenue.
The 162-acre project lies outside of city limits, but inside Puyallup’s urban growth boundaries. The county’s review in April determined the land would not face significant environmental effects.
162 acres proposed for the Knutson Farms Industrial Park project
In response, Puyallup declared itself the lead agency over the project in May and did its own review. It found the land would face major effects and would require an environmental impact statement.
“The city is much more attuned to the level of impacts,” Palmer said. “The city sees a lot of potential problems and the analysis done so far just does not capture that.”
Puyallup said the project would cause traffic problems and, because it’s close to the Puyallup River, hurt the habitat of threatened and endangered fish species, including Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.
Even if the developer made millions of dollars in trail and road improvement, it wouldn’t be enough, city officials said.
“A scaled-down version (of the project) would be much more acceptable,” Palmer said.
Efforts have been made to work with the county on the project, but the city has received no response, he said.
“We’ve been reaching out to the county to try to avoid all this and we still think it will be much better if (the city), the county and the developer work together to create a better solution,” Palmer said.
We’ve been reaching out to the county to try to avoid all this and we still think it will be much better if (the city), the county and the developer work together to create a better solution.
John Palmer, Puyallup deputy mayor
More than 2,500 people signed an online petition created by a group of Puyallup citizens to protect the area.
“The impacts of this project would be enormous: traffic congestion from 7,000 trucks and cars per day, costs to Puyallup citizens to repair roadways, decreased property values, destruction of farmland, incompatibility with the City’s future Van Lierop park, and an overall diminishment of land use character and quality of life for the Puyallup community,” according to the website.
The county, for its part, disputed that the city has jurisdiction over the project.
“While I appreciate the concerns members of the City Council and many Puyallup residents have about the impacts of the proposed development, the City has no authority to approve or disapprove the proposed project,” County Executive Bruce Dammeier said in a letter to Puyallup City Manager Kevin Yamamoto on May 16.
He added that the county will continue processing applications for the project.
In response, Yamamoto wrote in a letter May 23 stating the city “has jurisdiction, i.e., authority for key decisions, including, but not necessarily limited to permitting or approvals related to sewer, water and streets.”
Officials are waiting to hear from the court on how to proceed.
The key issue right now is who has the lead. It’s the same project and now we have two different (parties) saying we have jurisdiction and have different views on the impacts.
“The key issue right now is who has the lead,” Palmer said. “It’s the same project and now we have two different (parties) saying we have jurisdiction and have different views on the impacts.”
One warehouse on the property, owned by Michelson, is within city limits because of a previous zoning code decision. That warehouse has passed an environmental review and entitlement process and construction is proceeding.