Local Resident Drake Nicholson Applies to Amend Plan for Steamboat Island Athletic Facility

In June, 2004, local resident Drake Nicholson filed an application to build a 43,200 square foot building at 3505 Steamboat Island Road “for indoor tennis and associated athletic uses such as weight room, locker room and swimming pool.” Some area residents welcomed the plan for a facility they believed they might use. Other residents objected to what one described as “a huge, urban and high density facility” nearly an acre in size and 35 feet in height. The property is zoned zoned Rural Residential/Resource (one dwelling unit per five acres (RRR 1/5), with allowable land uses that include residential and farming. The County’s Hearing Examiner approved the application.

Click here to read the materials we have on file regarding this application.

The Board of the Griffin Neighborhood Association did not take a formal position either supporting or opposing the application. The Board did note it appeared the plans for the development often changed, though, making it difficult to understand what was actually going to be built. In a letter to GNA members, the Board described what it considered to be inconsistencies among the documents filed by the developer with the County and that “confusion exists about the project details.”

After the original application was approved, Steve Lundin, a member of the GNA, filed a formal appeal to the Hearing Examiner’s decision. However, that appeal was rejected and the application allowed to stand, even after review by County Commissioners.

This month, an application was filed to amend the original application. The amendment is to reduce the size of the facility to 42,520 square feet. Further, the application is now for a facility which includes these amenities:

  • Racquetball court
  • Lap pool
  • Game/party room
  • Salon
  • Massage/Tanning/Spa
  • Pro Shop
  • Cafe/Deli

A special use permit must be obtained, for this application to be approved.

The original application was approved under development rules which have since been changed. If the original application was filed today, the maximum size permitted would be only 4500 square feet. That’s right, one tenth the size of the proposed facility. Some who have read the application to amend believe that, by adding so many new, non-athletic uses, this is a new, not an amended, application.

The County is now taking public comments. The public comment period ends at 4 PM on October 27th. Comments are to be directed to Gayle C. Zeller at Thurston County Courthouse, Bldg. 1, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW, Olympia, WA 98502-6045. For additional information, you may call Zeller directly at 754-3355, ext. 6526.

A public hearing, not yet scheduled, will be held before the Hearing Examiner.

Where do you stand on this application? Does the amendment describe changes so great as to merit consideration as a new application, under the County’s new rules?

Posted in Uncategorized.


  1. This plan is not only a new one but it should be mentioned that the county has a new ordinance pertaining to prairie lands. My understanding is that legally, a new plan would fall under the ordinance and should not be approved. The SUP for the tennis club was granted before the ordinance and will have to stand but any addition to the SUP falls under the new ordinance (or should). It can be found at: http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/permitting/prairiehabitat/index.htm

  2. I opposed the original application – a development this large doesn’t belong here and I think the County violated its own zoning in approving the original application. So, I’d be happy if these changes were to make this a new application, where it could be struck down for good. When this business fails, what will become of this white elephant? Before it fails, will it drive other local businesses away?

Comments are closed.