Willis Family Trust to Continue with Plans to Build Conference Center on Steamboat Island Road

As many of you know, the County has permitted to hang over our heads for more than five years a proposal to build a conference center on the corner of Steamboat Island and Sunrise Beach roads. For much of that time, we have waited for the Willis Family Trust, developers of the project, to deliver the Environmental Impact Statement requested by the County in early 2005.

This last month, the County sent a letter to Robert Patrick, the representative for the developer. In this letter, the County requested two simple things: (1) information “indicating the applicant intends to pursue the project” and (2) the “timeline for starting the Environmental Impact Statement process”.

The County gave the developer 2 weeks to respond or, according to the letter, the project “will be expired”. Click here to read the letter.

When Mr. Patrick could not meet even that deadline, the County granted yet another extension.

Folks, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

When the extension was granted, the County added that the applicant’s response must include information as to what the applicant has actually accomplished toward completing the required Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).

Representatives from the County’s Development Services specifically stated in their letter to Mr. Patrick the project “will be expired” unless the county receives the requested information or materials by the deadline.

On the day the extended deadline was set to expire, the developer’s representative made a full payment ($9890) for the application fees required by the County to move the application forward.

No DEIS was delivered to the County. No timeline. No information whatever. Just a check.

In the face of rumors the County will raise its application fees, the Willis Family Trust simply paid the current fees and provided absolutely nothing the County requested.

We believe the application should be lapsed, as the developer has failed to meet the conditions stipulated by the County.

Mr. Willis clearly intends to go forward with his project, despite the poor reception given by residents in the area, the sagging economy, and the presence of many competing banquet and convention facilities.

We are now waiting to see if the County will expire the application, as they promised they would.

What You Can Do

  • Print out a copy of the window sign opposing the project. You can download a sign here.
  • Please consider making a contribution to our legal fund. All contributions to the legal fund are held exclusively for the use of fighting this project. You can make a secure contribution, using your credit card, here.
  • Tell your neighbors. Many of them may have mistakenly come to believe that, after 5 years, this application has already been expired.

The developer, Mr. Willis, is determined to convert residentially-zoned property to his own commercial use. We want the County to enforce its existing regulations prohibiting this use of residential land.

Learn more about the proposed Steamboat Island Conference Center and contribute to our legal fund online at http://www.griffinneighbors.org/confctr.htm .

Stay tuned, as the Board will continue to provide you with updates as events materialize.

Thank you for your continued support of the Griffin Neighborhood Association.

UPDATE: On March 31st, the President of the GNA sent to Michael Kain, Thurston County Planning Manager, a letter. In this letter, GNA President Gary Goodwin asks the County to do what the County said it would, if the conditions described in its letter to the applicant were not met. The GNA has asked the County to “return the check [for application fees], inform the applicant that the project has expired, and inform the applicant that he may file a new application for a special use permit under the existing zoning controls if he wishes to pursue the proposal.”

Click here to read the letter in which the GNA is asking the County to confirm the application has now been expired.

Save the Date: Garden Rhapsodies Tour – July 26

This year, the annual Garden Rhapsodies Tour in Thurston County will be in the Griffin area with five gardens selected on the Steamboat Island and Oyster Bay peninsulas.

The garden tour features lovely gardens cared for in an earth-friendly manner. Gardens included in the tour do not have to be strictly organic but they should use preventative techniques and pesticides only as a last resort.

Garden Rhapsodies Tour
July 26th
10:00AM to 4:00PM

This is an educational event and a fund raiser for three local non-profits: The Master Gardener Foundation, Native Plant Salvage Project and the Olympia Symphony Guild.

More information will be posted here, closer to the event.

Or, contact Jennifer Johnson, Environmental Educator, Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department, Environmental Health Division at (360) 754-4111 ext. 7631 or by email at johnsoj@co.thurston.wa.us

Update to South Sound Logistics Center Proposed by Ports of Tacoma, Olympia

We are pleased to be able to update our prior post on the South Sound Logistics Center (SSLC), proposed for a part of South Thurston County. See also the link to the Olympian article, which will provide more information about this latest turn of events. Our prior post also links to several other Olympian articles on the plans to build a large warehousing facility within 1/2 of a mile of Millersylvania State Park.

From The Friends of Rocky Prairie, we received this notice:

Dear Friends,

Port of Olympia has helped us by withdrawing their request to postpone our rezone. Click here to read the Olympian article “Port rethinks request for county to delay rezoning”.

The Port of Tacoma has not withdrawn and they stated this past week that they could still sell the property to industry!

Let’s keep the pressure on!

Please! We need all of you to attend the rezone meeting March 26th, 6:00 pm at the Thurston County Expo Center (Thurston County Fairgrounds).

See you there!

Friends of Rocky Prairie

Directions to the Thurston County Expo Center:

Heading to Lacey on I-5 North

Take exit 109, turn right on Martin Way. Take Martin Way and make a right onto Carpenter Rd. Follow for about 3 mikes to fairgrounds on left. Follow signs to Expo Center.

Heading to Lacey on I-5 South

Take exit 109, turn left on Martin Way. Take Martin Way and make a right onto Carpenter Rd. Follow for about 3 mikes to fairgrounds on left. Follow signs to Expo Center.

Save The Date: Emergency Preparedness Fair, Sep 27

As may of you may know, the GNA has undertaken as one of its ongoing projects an effort to increase the emergency preparedness of families and businesses in our area. This project, a partnership with the Griffin Fire Department, Griffin School District, the Red Cross and local emergency planning agencies, is described in somewhat more detail on our web site.

On Saturday, September 27, the Thurston County Emergency Management Council will hold its Second Annual Emergency Preparedness Fair. This will include preparedness demonstrations, vendor booths and a lot of very useful information you can use to prepare for the inevitable. Whether its an earthquake, Avian Flu, or an extended power outage, a comprehensive event such as this one cannot be beat, as a way of preparing.

Saturday, September 27
9AM to 4PM
St. Martin’s University
Worthington Center & Pavilion
5300 Pacific Ave. SE, Lacey

For more details about the Second Annual Emergency Preparedness Fair, contact Vivian Eason at 360-786-5243 or email her at easonv@co.thurston.wa.us

Thurston County Emergency Management has useful online resources, to help you to begin your planning. Click here for that web page.

For more information about the Griffin Neighborhood Association’s emergency preparedness efforts, click this link to visit our web page.

Be prepared (it’s more than just part of the Boy Scout Motto)!

Friends of Rocky Prairie Ask for Support for Rezone in South Thurston County

Perhaps you have already read or heard about the South Sound Logistics Center (SSLC), proposed by the Port of Tacoma and Port of Olympia. Located within a 1/2 of a mile of Millersylvania State Park, plans are already on file for a high-cube warehousing facility. In this biologically diverse area of rural Thurston County, plans show a structure with a building footprint of 3,028,00 square feet, the size of 28 football fields.

We’ve seen this sort of thing already; construction of a project that in no way reflects the rural setting on which it is sited. Both the Ports and the County have sought to downplay the significance of the plans or even the likelihood of the project going forward. Meanwhile, plans are now on file with Thurston County.

The Friends of Rocky Prairie “is a group of concerned homeowners and residents in Washington’s South Puget Sound region, including the Thurston County rural communities of Maytown and Tenino.” According to Friends of Rocky Prairie:

The plans for the SSLC contain numerous possibilities including a rail switching yard, chemical manufacturing plant, solid waste transfer station, warehousing and a truck to rail distribution site. This would create a massive 24 hour per day industrial complex the size of Olympia, and would inundate roads from Olympia to South Thurston County with 1000’s of trucks and blocked railroad crossings.

A citizen has filed an application with the county to rezone the Port’s property in order to bring it into conforming use with the surrounding rural lands, including the State Park, the Fish & Wildlife Preserve, and long-term forests.

You can help.

Learn more about the issues. The Friends of Rocky Prairie have a page dedicated to the rezone, on their web site. Click this link to visit that page.

If you believe the County ought to rezone the property, you may sign a petition. The Friends of Rocky Prairie would like to obtain the names, addresses and phone numbers of as many County residents as possible, by Wednesday, March 19. There is a link here to that petition.

The Olympian has run a number of articles on the project. Among these are:

Crowd of 300 speaks out on port project
Logistics center meets opposition
Ports to meet on cargo center
Plans for cargo center collide with concerns about prairie
Ports team up on depot Web site
Neighbors rail against cargo site

Puget Sound Needs Our Help – Workshop and Community Conversation

The Puget Sound Partnership is sponsoring a series of workshops in communities surrounding Puget Sound. A workshop and community conversation will be held this Friday, March 7. This is our opportunity to get involved in restoring and protecting Puget Sound. Share our local perspective about the status of Puget Sound health and its greatest threats, and help establish priorities for the future. Workshops will take place from 1 to 5 p.m., followed by an open community conversation about Puget Sound health from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Puget Sound Partnership Action Area Workshops and Public Meetings
The Evergreen State College, Lecture Hall 2
Friday, March 7
Workshop 1 – 5 PM
Community Meeting 5:30 – 7:30 PM
click here for a map

At the workshops, the overarching goal is to work toward a shared understanding of current status and threats to Puget Sound. Attendees will be invited to add their local knowledge and perspectives to the status and threats assessment of Puget Sound through small and large group discussion. Workshop participants will also have the chance to review a summary of a Sound-wide inventory of current actions and make recommendations.

During the community conversations, members of the public will be invited to review the workshop discussion and share their comments and concerns about the status of Puget Sound’s health and its greatest threats.

For more information on this event, click this link.

Puget Sound Partnership, Toll-free: 800.54.SOUND, Phone: 360.725.5444, Email: info@psp.wa.gov