By Marianne Lincoln
The summer of 2021 was one of the driest and hottest on record in Western Washington. This Winter, we were introduced to the term, atmospheric river, a huge swath of wet clouds ready to wring themselves out on a path thousands of miles long from the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Added to the fact there was already several inches of snow on the ground, the warm rain recently caused flooding all over the Puget Sound region.
In 2017, Pierce County had a considerable amount of rain in mid-March. Following that event, the water table filled and the oxbow in Pioneer Valley filled with water. As that water reached a considerable height, it overflowed into houses on the north and flooded streets in the Fir Meadows Community on 204th between 66th and 70th Avenues. 67th Avenue and 201st Street was a lake deep enough to swallow a car.
Fir Meadows is just South of the Boeing Frederickson plant and the old Columbia Powder site, bordering land that was recently sold and is in the process of being developed into warehouses, roads and parking lots. In this process, all the trees at the north end of Fir Meadows might be removed, all the way to 176th Street. The development is being called FRED310 in the planning department (PALS) paperwork.
Notification of this project only went to the properties specifically bordering the property line of the parcels in development, not to the Fir Meadows Homeowners Association. No, Charly Trevino, the agent for the homeowners found out almost by accident. Her panicked note to us said, “How am I going to do this alone? This is insane and giving to the 28th (of January) to give comment. I am (a) sinking ship.”
Here is an aerial with some markings on all the places the Pierce Prairie Post found flooding and took photos in 2017. It is significant as the project slopes downhill toward Fir Meadows who will be caught in between water from the oxbow and drainage from the new impervious surfaces and the new road extension at 192nd Street into the project.
You can see from the photographs above, there was considerable flooding where the developers are looking to build the extension of 192nd Street. Once the trees are removed uphill, the impact will increase by a great percentage. The notice dated December 29, 2021, says the development is 309 acres and there will be 5 buildings of about 3,896,500 square feet in area that are warehouses and office space. The department SEPA review called it “non-significant.”
Here is the site plan, rotated so North is on top.
It is the job of every citizen who knows this project vicinity to weigh in with a comment and become a person with “standing” on the issue. Standing means you could appeal something in court if necessary in the future. If you do not comment, you cannot get legal traction when your backyard is a swamp or the noise and lights make it so you cannot sleep at night. It pays to offer up important mitigation ideas right now, to help your neighborhood remain livable with your big, new neighbor.
Here are things a SEPA report addresses and you might use as ideas to comment upon: Earth, air, water, groundwater, wells, runoff, vegetation, sound/noise, light/glare, species that may be threatened, noxious plants, birds, mammals, fish, wildlife migration routes, energy features (electricity, gas, solar, cellular), roads, traffic, pedestrians, driveways, toxic chemicals, potential of spills, former contamination, future contamination, emergency services, utilities, aesthetics, building heights, shadows, views, recreation, historic/cultural preservation, landmarks, cemeteries, mitigation measures, buffers.
The document in the online permits for PALS is accessible from this link:
After you agree to the Online Permitting rules, it will open to this development application. In the upper right is an orange box that says [I want to], you can pull down that menu and choose to add yourself to enotification so you will get future information.
On the list of documents, select Written Order Dated 12-29-2021 to open it for instructions on who to contact and how to add your comment. The County Contact is Cory Ragan, Senior Planner, (253)798-2590, email@example.com for emails.
In perusing the 514 pages of environmental studies, significant work was done between July and September 2021, when it was so very dry in this region. There may be an opportunity to head off issues for you and the developers with your suggestions. Please, add your contacts immediately, you only have until close of business on January 28, 2022. The County offices close at 4:30 p.m.
If we all do this right and get our useful suggestions to them, we will all be better neighbors in the future.