City Meeting Covers Shelton Hills Project
A Planned Action Ordinance once passed will allow a step forward on the Shelton Hills Project. (City of Shelton Commission Meeting, Feb. 18) - A public hearing was held with the purpose of establishing Planned Action Ordinance 1845-0214, pursuant to the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).
The goal is to move the Shelton Hills Project to the next level, by adopting the “Planned Action Ordinance” (PAO). The proposed PAO is a tool utilized under SEPA that shifts the environmental review from the time a permit application is made to an earlier phase in the planning process. To qualify as a PAO, all of the project’s significant probable environment impacts must be addressed at the plan level.
Citizen concerns continue with two contaminated sites adjacent (Goose Lake and the old Shelton Dump, and the effect on the Critical Aqua Recharge Area’s (CARA’s) critical aqua recovery areas) to the project site. Other concerns surrounding the project are the concern for “what is not known” regarding the level of contamination and the liabilities the city may have regarding these “unknowns”. Funding for improvements required for Hwy 101 interchange, traffic flows and the “C” Street overpass are also an area of concern.
Community Development Director Steve Goins said project management is in agreement with comments made regarding the environmental impacts. The difference is the sequence in which events would occur (clean up before the project starts, or as a part of the project). Regarding traffic, work has been done with WSDOT and the developer to evaluate and determine traffic flows to ensure transportation improvements are addressed. Concern for excavation of the site and the hauling of material were dispelled. According to Goins, most of the soil will be redistributed within the project site.
Several citizens commented about the importance of the Shelton Hills project and the “trust” that the environmental issues will be resolved and not forgotten once the project is up and running. Citizens also commented on the need to “have a place in Mason County to shop” and stop the income and tax dollars from going out of County.
Brandon Farrell, Director of Development, Hall Equities, encouraged the audience read the Environmental Impact Statement as the document addresses issues about the unknowns and Goose Lake. The PAO does not allow Hall Equities to build out the project; it simply allows for the mechanism to be put in place to get to the next step - that includes the cleanup of Goose Lake.
Commissioner Moore said the issues are with the adjacent properties and not the project’s site. Moore said a PAO is not a new concept and it has been used effectively elsewhere. Goins addressed Moore’s concerns over the CARA’s: the City’s current regulations and mapping of existing CARA’s cover uses and requirements for the land over the CARA’s.
Commissioner Olsen was concerned for the safety of the project. Olsen was not concerned about the liabilities that were identified, as the EPA and Ecology have continually sided with the tax payer. Olsen feels Hall Equities, project owner, would be the best ally in getting the contaminated sites cleaned up by Rainier Industries and Department of Ecology. Olsen urged concerned citizens to keep pressure on Rainier Industries and the Department of Ecology by speaking out to them and state senators/ representative to get attention on this very important issue.
Mayor Cronce stated the environmental issues are not new. He feels that Hall Equities is the reason we are cleaning up the sites: if it is not for Hall/Shelton Hills how would the community fund (and drive) the clean up?
The 1st reading of the Ordinance was completed, with Olsen voicing his hesitation to approve a 2nd reading at the next scheduled City Commission meeting (2/24/14).
February 19, 2014/JE KMAS News
IMAGE/Rendering of the Proposed Shelton Hills from Halls Equities Group website