Port property rezoned to allow for industrial development

The Grays Harbor County commissioners on May 7 approved a zoning change for two parcels owned by the Port of Grays Harbor near the Satsop Business Park. The parcels neighbor residences.

The zoning change was recommended by the county planning and building department.

Following a brief hearing during the commission meeting, A 140-acre parcel along Keys Road was rezoned to Satsop Development zoning (from general development). A 15-acre parcel near Fuller Creek will be rezoned to Satsop Multiuse zoning (also from general development). The change will allow for more industrial uses of the property.

Commissioner Wes Cormier, who owns property neighboring the parcels, recused and excused himself from the hearing.

Alissa Shay of the Satsop Business Park offered to answer the commissioners’ questions. She confirmed that the port currently has no potential tenants for the parcels and the parcels are adjacent to and adjoining current Port property.

Hearing Examiner Stephen K. Causseaux Jr., on Sept. 28, 2017, recommended the county approve the zoning change but asked the county also to amend the language to mandate a buffer or screening between the property and neighboring residential properties.

The zoning change was not without opposition.

The Jones Family on Keys Road wrote that they “strongly oppose” the rezoning in a brief letter.

Another letter from concerned neighbors noted their worry about an increase in noise and traffic.

“The Value of our property will go down because people do not want to live next to an industrial area,” wrote June and Jerry Thorne in a letter opposing the rezoning. The Thornes also were concerned a trail on the Port property would be destroyed by development. The Thornes’ grandchildren use the trail for biking and horseback riding.

Douglas and Patricia Taylor wrote that the parcels have served as a buffer to the current operations at Satsop Business Park. Developing the land would take away that buffer. They also wrote that they disagree with the State Environmental Policy Act threshold determination of nonsignificance.

“The rezone from general development to Satsop development industrial uses has numerous impacts to the wildlife, underground aquifer, air pollution, noise pollution and quality of life to human beings in the neighboring area,” the Taylors wrote.

Cormier’s wife, Ambrea, submitted a multiple page objection to the rezoning. She cited the potential for light and noise pollution. In purchasing the property, the Cormiers researched neighboring parcels. She noted that at the time of their initial research one of the parcels was owned by Weyerhaeuser and in the timber program.

“Although, at most, we could have expected eventual development of residential properties on the subject parcel. However, one year after the purchase of our home, Weyerhaeuser sold “Section 8-Keys road” to the Port of Grays Harbor (PDA),” Ambrea Cormier wrote. That sale was in 2012. “Now our home is directly across from the subject property and has the most linear frontage being effected by the change.”

In their motion to approve the zoning change on May 7, the commissioners noted why they felt the change was appropriate.

Commissioner Vickie Raines said she believed the buffer would mitigate many of the concerns the neighbors brought forward.

Commissioner Randy Ross said he believes the Port has the intention of being “good neighbors.”