Sequim First withdraws its Fred Meyer appeal

Posted on Wednesday 16 June, 2004

Sequim Gazette

Sequim, WA - Sequim First has withdrawn its environmental appeal of the proposed Bell Farm Center and its major tenant Fred Meyer in Sequim.

Andrew Shogren, Sequim First's vice president, said the community-based nonprofit organization is going to spend its time and money pursuing state appeals of both the proposed Wal-Mart and Sequim Village Marketplace developments in Sequim.
"We just sat down and took a hard look at the three projects," said Shogren, adding the group of some 530 individuals and businesses opted to spend its time and money working to change rulings on retail development of Sequim's west end.
Shogren called the Fred Meyer-anchored Bell Farm Center adjacent to Highway 101 and Sequim Avenue, "The better of the three projects." "We know Mark Burrowes tried to do a better job than the other two," said Shogren. "He came to us with his proposal."
Sequim First is still going to address the Sequim City Council at Wednesday's zoning hearing for the Bell Farm Center project, Shogren added. Choosing to argue against Lefevre's March 2004 Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance of Bell Farm Center is not where Shogren said he sees Sequim First being able to succeed.
"We know what the track record of the city council is," said Shogren. "We just felt pouring our money into this was not a good idea."
The city council unanimously approved in July 2003 city planner Dennis Lefevre's MDNS for the two west end retail projects. Sequim First - as well as the county department of community development and the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe - followed with immediate appeals of both decisions and lost those appeals before the council. Only Sequim First continued with attempted superior court and now state appeals court rulings.
Fred Meyer has committed to plans for constructing an estimated 160,000-square-foot building on Burrowes family property at Highway 101 and South Sequim Avenue as the anchor tenant for the first phase of the proposed Bell Farm Center.
Burrowes said he signed an agreement in late October 2003 with Fred Meyer as the first tenant for a shopping center on a portion of the family's 70-plus acres.
Burrowes indicated about 32 of the family's 70-plus acres are being developed for the Fred Meyer-anchored center. There are no specific plans right now for additional buildings on the site, although Burrowes said he wants to have local retailers as a primary focal point when the second phase of development can begin. There is no time frame, Burrowes noted previously, for the second phase of construction to begin.
Dozens of citizens studied a series of preliminary sketches and maps displayed at Pioneer Park's clubhouse in November 2003, while engineers and architects stood by to answer their questions about the designs. The vast majority of people at the open house said they thought a Fred Meyer in Sequim was a good idea.
Some brought up familiar big-box-store issues, such as increased traffic and congestion. Most, however, said they were surprised by the attractiveness of the designs and that they liked the way the farm-village theme complex had a single-lane roundabout entrance and a central plaza that could be used for festivals and events.
Construction plans call for the addition of a traffic signal at Sequim Avenue and Hammond Street, and a widening of Sequim Avenue in addition to adding both right and left turn lanes.
According to design plans, Hammond Street will require a new, three-quarter-mile road from Sequim Avenue to Lee Chatfield Way, where three travel lanes will be landscaped with a median, planters and sidewalks. The primary entrance will be at Hammond Street, a single-lane roundabout.
An intersection realignment and through-lane improvements are planned for Hammond Street and Brown Road, in addition to a transit stop and trail for Bell Creek that cuts diagonally through the property. The trail was highlighted in one of the multiple recommended additions Lefevre added in the MDNS.
"A non-motorized interpretive trail shall be constructed along the south edge of the southern buffer along Bell Creek to complete a connection between Brown Road to Hammond Street at South Sequim Avenue," Lefevre noted in his findings.
"There are a number of items Dennis put in that we proposed in the SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) checklist," said Burrowes when talking about the trail along Bell Creek. "Hopefully we addressed all those to the satisfaction of the city."
Sequim First abandoned June 14 its SEPA appeal of the Bell Farm Center but Shogren said the group's watchdog-like attitude is not going away when it comes to the Burrowes project.
"We are not convinced the wetlands and aquifer have adequate protection under the current proposal," said Shogren. "If we see things down the road that (city public works director) Jim Bay or Dennis (Lefevre) can fix, we will raise questions with them."
Sequim First has filed papers with the state court of appeals to try and force full Environmental Impact Statements on both the Wal-Mart and Sequim Village Marketplace proposed developments. Shogren said nothing more than the intent to appeal each project's approval by the city of Sequim - and upheld at the county superior court level - has been filed.
"It will be a long process, five or six months," said Shogren.
The length of the appeals is not stopping the developers. Concrete walls and flooring are already in place at the Wal-Mart site while buildings are being moved off the Sequim Village Marketplace site in preparations for construction.
Sequim First - along with owners of the Safeway and QFC shopping centers in Sequim - sued Burrowes two years ago when he initially tried to rezone his property for a shopping center on family land at Highway 101 and South Sequim Avenue. The lawsuit was eventually dropped.
"We have been sitting back and watching, learning from the mistakes made on the other side of town," said Burrowes in a November 2003 interview. "And maybe from some of the mistakes we made on the rezone."
--by Dan Ross
Gazette editor
Published 6.16.04




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