Northwest NEWS

November 18, 2002

Editorial

"And now for the rest of the story"

While I understand the concern about the Waste Management project in Woodinville, not all of the facts circulating in the community are correct. Please give me the opportunity to give you some more information.
   Waste Management is not placing a transfer station in Woodinville. That field is pre-empted by the Solid Waste Comprehensive Plan for public agencies. Most in this county are owned by King County. Waste Management has had permits issued to build a recycling center in Woodinville.
   As recycling centers go, this is going to be no small affair. It will be their second largest single-line recycling center in the country. The building footprint will exceed 74,000 square feet, smaller in Woodinville only than the Winsome Trading facility.
   One of the reasons the building will be so large is that the entire facility will be indoors. Waste Management asserts that this will provide for excellent noise, odor and vector control. The off-load bays will open to the north away from the street to help manage any incidental noise. The loading bays are placed below the west face of the building.
   The compressed bales will be loaded directly from the facility onto vans and no outside storage will take place.
   Since recyclables are primarily commodities and not garbage, odor is not expected to be an issue as may be the case in an open-air solid waste transfer station.
   Also, the commodities that usually create the most odor and noise problems are yard waste and concrete/asphalt. These will not be handled at this facility.
   There has been no posting for the project because the entire project required no changes in the land use code or no special use permits. SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) checklist was advertised for a public comment period as it normally is.
   Everything proposed is within existing codes and in the proper industrial zone, which in my opinion are more stringent in design requirements than most.
   When an owner applies for a building permit, they are vested in the codes on the books at the time of application.
   Waste Management is a savvy owner/developer. It is always the easiest to propose a permit that fits within the existing codes and land use. Even so, it took many months for this project to work its way through the permitting process and Waste Management was not always happy with City reponses to the project.
   If you find the codes to be lax in any way, please let me know how and I will pass it on to the Planning Commission and City Council.
   The traffic study indicates a very manageable impact. Even so, Waste Management paid a traffic mitigation fee within the SEPA process to go toward future improvements. This was smaller than most projects of this size because of the limited impact on the streets.
   The same number of curbside trucks will feed this plant as drive the streets of the Woodinville area each day to unload at the plant in the Grace area, just to the north of the City limits. They will simply drive to a different building.
   It is estimated that 76 new employee vehicle trips will traverse to and from the plant each work day. In addition, 59 new truck trips will come to and from the plant each day. Peak hour commute influence will be about 30 in/out trips per day.
   The actual placement of the plant is very close to the SR 522 freeway and all outside truck and trailer trips will travel short distances, all on arterials that have ample capacity to handle the increase. The entry from 190th Street is somewhat steep, but there will be some widening to allow for slowing and turn radius.
   This project was not kept from public view. Waste Management held a publicly advertised groundbreaking in August. By the same token, the projects that usually attract public view are those that must go through a zone or code change process or special use permit process as noted above.
   Builders Supply has temporarily relocated to 177th Place, I believe, while it looks for a more permanent location.
   This Waste Management development is happening within the framework of all our planning guidelines.
   The construction sales tax is welcome in a year when the City did a $600,000 budget reduction due to slow revenues. Unfortunately, much of the equipment for the plant is sales tax exempt, under the state's manufacturing equipment exemption.
   Since the industrial types of businesses tend to contribute more to the tax burden than they demand in services, it is likely that this project will eventually help to fund the quality-of-life services enjoyed by our residents.
   While I have no need to be an apologist for Waste Management, so far they have been good to work with and appear to be good corporate citizens.
   Pete Rose, Woodinville City Manager