Rock Island river acreage

IDD declared

EAST WENATCHEE -- The Port District of Douglas County declared an Industrial Development District on about 130 riverfront acres that are part of the city of Rock Island's Urban Growth Area June 27 during a regular meeting here.
The vote was unanimous as the three Port commissioners accepted the recommendation of their Executive Director Lisa Parks to designate the potentially valuable parcel along the Columbia River in order to make way for future possible environmental clean-up and commercial development.
Longtime Rock Island resident and city council candidate Jana Howard asked questions about the possibility of Waste Management buying the former silicon plant and turning it into a garbage transfer station, but Parks said the declaration of IDD status had "no impact on ownership."
Making her point emphatically, Parks said, "We are not a land use regulatory authority. That is up to the city."
Rock Island Councilman Ray Pearson was at the meeting and expressed his approval of the IDD plan. "I'm glad we're moving forward." Pearson said his main concern was that the people of his city have a "say so in what goes on."
Jon Port, another parcel owner, was at the meeting as well. He had previously expressed his chagrin at his inability to sell or develop his parcel because the adjoining property was on the state environmental hazards list.  
In that same letter, dated June 20, Port stated, "I am in full support of the Port establishing an IDD on my property and the other properties identified in the report."
This legal designation allows the Port to apply for grants for development as well as for environmental mitigation.
That clean-up may cost millions depending on how much, if any, mercury and other toxic materials are discovered and in what quantity. The Port only had to satisfy one of many "marginal lands" criteria per RCW 53.25.030. The vast majority of those criteria were met, including "the existence of lots or other areas which are subject to being submerged by water."
Parks and Port Commissioner Jim Huffman reassured the three audience members that the city would retain full rights regarding zoning under Urban Growth Area (UGA) regulations since the majority of the newly named IDD falls within the UGA. Before the June 27 meeting, a public hearing and workshop was held in Rock Island's city hall on June 13 where a great many citizens attended and had an opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of the plan.
Rock Island and the Port have wanted to move forward on development of the parcel for several years, but were unable to negotiate a buyout or get environmental approval from the state to make the deal happen.
Though not at the June 27 meeting, in an exclusive interview with the Wenatchee Business Journal the day before, Rock Island Mayor Randy Agnew said, "I'd love to see a park and a marina on that site, maybe even a casino," Agnew said. "I only want what's best for the people of Rock Island."
For much more on this important developing story, be sure to read a follow-up article scheduled for the August edition of the Wenatchee Business Journal.

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