Warehouse A appeal hearings wrap up; hearing examiner's decision expected in early September
After five days of hearings, the Save Weyerhaeuser Campus appeal of IRG's Warehouse A project concluded on Aug. 9, 2019. A major focus of SWC's appeal is the contention that the City of Federal Way was required to consider cumulative impacts from all five of IRG's proposed warehouses on the campus, not just impacts of Warehouse A.
The hearing examiner is expected to rule in the case in early September.
The hearing began June 20-21, but was continued for more than six weeks after the hearing examiner ruled that public comment had to be allowed under the city's appeal regulations. The August dates were the earliest available to accommodate publication of the public notice and the schedules of all the parties involved. The third day of the hearing (Aug. 7) included oral public comments; the public was also allowed to submit written comments.
Warehouse A is the first of five warehouse/industrial buildings proposed by Industrial Realty Group of California on the historic Weyerhaeuser campus. The appeal is the latest step in SWC's nearly three-year fight to assure that responsible, appropriate development and mitigation occur on the campus, which may qualify as a National Historic Landmark.
Seeking the 'big picture' view
SWC is seeking review of the cumulative effects from ALL of IRG's projects on the campus, so that the "big picture" of impacts to traffic, the environment and the integrity of the historic design can be appropriately considered and mitigated.
Industrial Realty Group's other two projects on the campus -- Warehouse B (adjacent to Warehouse A), and the three-warehouse Greenline Business Park on the northern part of the campus -- are continuing through the application review process. (In case you're confused, IRG initially renamed the campus Greenline but more recently changed the name to Woodbridge Corporate Park. The permit applications were filed under the Greenline name, so that's why it continues being used.)
The SWC legal team appealed the city's SEPA (environmental) decision for Warehouse A that was issued in October 2018 and the land-use decision that was issued in February 2019. The two appeals were combined into a single hearing as required by law.
Under the Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance for Warehouse A, the city specified several migitation measures required during construction, and a provision that Weyerhaeuser Way must be completely rebuilt if more than 28 trucks per week travel north of the project site.
However, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the King County Department of Transportation raised concerns about significant impacts of traffic from all three projects, and requested they be studied comprehensively, not one at a time. A WSDOT representative was among experts testifying for SWC in the appeal.
In addition, the Puyallup and Muckleshoot Tribes requested further environmental study of cumulative impacts to the Hylebos stream system, which downstream provides habitat for endangered species including steelhead, chinook and bull trout. Millions of dollars have been spent on habitat restoration downstream from the Warehouse A site.
After reviewing the comments, the city added a requirement (requested by the WSDOT) that IRG expand part of the off-ramp from Highway 18 to Weyerhaeuser Way, but did not require comprehensive study of the cumulative impacts from the three project proposals.
Save Weyerhaeuser Campus also believes that comprehensive review is required because of the significant cumulative impacts of the three projects -- including the potential of more than 800 semi-truck trips to the campus every day. Although IRG has submitted these projects separately, they share common ownership, road system, stream system and zoning.
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Save Weyerhaeuser Campus is a 501(c)(3) organization: EIN 81-3674786