Why is the city allowing huge warehouses on this beautiful property anyway?
Good question! A special concomitant zoning agreement was negotiated when Weyerhaeuser annexed to the city of Federal Way in 1994. The agreement did not include an expiration date; it ends only at the mutual agreement of the two parties. The city says the agreement's 1994 terms, including most development codes that existed two decades ago, run with the property as long as the agreement is in force.
Won't there be an awful lot of semi-trucks?
Yes -- nearly 800 per day when all five warehouses are built! We pulled this information from traffic impact analysis reports filed with the city of Federal Way by IRG's own consultants, as part of the land-use applications.
The main accesses to these warehouses will be via Highway 18/Weyerhaeuser Way and Interstate 5/South 320th Street. As anyone who lives in and around Federal Way has experienced, both of these major routes are already congested and back up during the morning and afternoon/evening commutes.
What does the concomitant agreement say about uses of the property?
The concomitant zoning agreement lists 13 primary uses that are allowed outright and eight uses that are allowed as accessory uses. Catch-all provisions allow the city’s Community Development Director to approve any other primary or accessory uses that he deems as compatible. Nowhere does the agreement specify industrial zoning, although "production and light assembly of goods" is allowed.
The agreement calls for large, contiguous sites with landscaping, open space amenities and buildings of superior quality — low-density uses intended to reflect and be compatible with Weyerhaeuser's existing uses at the time of annexation.
Although "warehousing and distribution" are specified as an allowed primary use, the massive warehouses proposed were not the intent of George Weyerhaeuser and Jack Creighton, the two men leading the Weyerhaeuser Company at the time the agreement was signed. Read their letters to the city:
How will our environment be impacted? What are the environmental concerns of our local tribes?
Wetlands will be filled on the sites and wildlife habitat will be destroyed when forests are cut down to make way for the buildings and parking lots. The campus property is at the headwaters of the east fork of Hylebos Creek, and the Puyallup and Muckleshoot Tribes made formal comments to the city outlining their environmental concerns, including downstream impacts to the Hylebos system, which is used by endangered species including steelhead, chinook and bull trout. The Puyallup Tribe noted that it and others have spent millions of dollars over the past several decades to restore this system.
In its comments, the Muckleshoot Tribe said it was pleased to see that stormwater runoff will receive enhanced treatment methods according to the requirements of the King County stormwater manual. But it expressed concerns that the projects are being considered separately through the permitting process.
"While the project construction may be phased, it does not mean that the environmental impacts to treaty-protected fisheries resources can be adequately assessed in such a phased or piece-meal approach for a project with almost 2 million square feet of warehouses and 5 buildings on 6 contiguous parcels under common ownership all within the East Fork of Hylebos Creek. The road networks and stormwater facilities would be shared at a minimum," stated Karen Walter, the Muckleshoots' watersheds and land use team leader said in comments submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Federal Way.
Will I still be able to walk the trails and play with my dog in the meadow?
If your favorite spot is the meadow and woods north of South 336th Street, then the bad news is that the plans submitted by IRG show that most of that area and much of its trails will be lost to three warehouses, huge parking lots and stormwater ponds.
The trails and open spaces within the "ring road" area around the historic headquarters building are preserved --for now-- under IRG's current plans, as well as the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden and the Pacific Bonsai Museum (which lease their land from IRG).
But IRG has made it clear that preserving these important pieces of the campus are tied to being able to build the five warehouses.
On the FAQ section of its Woodbridge Corporate Park website, IRG states: "The successful entitlement of new structures on the property provides the funding for preservation..." and "If IRG can move through the entitlement process expeditiously, it will be able to maintain funding for preserving the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, Bonsai Museum and walking trails."
What can I do about it?
Contact Mayor Jim Ferrell, Deputy Mayor Susan Honda and the rest of the City Council members to let them know you want them to do everything possible to find a better solution for development on the property.
Tell IRG you don't support the construction of five warehouses on this iconic urban greenspace. Ask them to come to the table with Save Weyerhaeuser Campus, Forterra and the city to work out a compromise.
Make comments on projects as they go through the permitting process. Sign up for email notifications and watch our website and Facebook page for alerts when public comment periods are open.
Make a donation to fund our outreach, legal advocacy, and technical review as we work to achieve development that is more appropriate to the unique campus property, continuing a positive legacy for the community.