Port of Olympia commissioners hold special meeting on New Market Industrial Campus

Another meeting set for this coming Monday


After 11 months of discussions, the Port of Olympia is close to issuing an action regarding the proposed Panattoni development. With this, the port held a special commission meeting to evaluate the pros and cons of approving an Interlocal Agreement (ILA) for the New Market Industrial Campus.

The ILA covers an agreement between the Port and the City of Tumwater to allow Panattoni, a California-based real-estate company, to lease 199-acres of the New Market Industrial campus.

In his presentation, on Thu., Aug. 19, Port of Olympia Business Development Director Allyn Roe shared that the ILA contains the following agreements:

  • 10-Year lease option agreement: This serves not as a lease, but acts more as a reservation on the property until Panattoni decides on whether they will pursue the project development.
  • Lease agreement: Once Panattoni agrees to develop the area, they will lease the property for a minimum of 55 years.
  • Vesting rights: to provide security, the city of Tumwater will award Panattoni a 20-year vesting agreement that prohibits the city from enacting any zoning changes in the area during the period.
  • Tumwater Community Center: The Port will provide to the city of Tumwater a 10-acre parcel of land for the city to use to build its proposed community center.

City and citizen complaints

However, Roe shared that the city had reservations regarding the 20-year vesting agreement. They also shared that the potential location for the community center is unfavorable since the city wanted a site that is more accessible and closer to Tumwater Boulevard.

Several Tumwater residents also expressed their disapproval regarding the proposed development. Some of the major concerns include the environmental impact that the new structures would have, as well as the possible increase in traffic, especially in terms of heavy vehicles.

However, Roe assured the public of the port’s commitment to provide internal circulation. One of their solutions is to close down Kimmy Street. In addition, Roe shared that the truck traffic will be directed to the north and encouraged the city to establish restrictions that would prohibit trucks from going south into the school and residential area.

Commissioner Joe Downing also added that other businesses in the campus such as the International Wood Products facility are able to direct 100 percent of their truck traffic to the north.

Tension escalated over “rushed” schedule

 As in previous meetings, tension escalated between Commissioners Joe Downing and E.J. Zita. During the discussion Downing, as chair of the commission, called a point of order and instructed Zita to hold her questions at the end of the discussion to allow the staff to present. He emphasized that the discussion is only limited to presenting the pros and cons of the ILA agreement.

Commissioner Bill McGregor also repeated Downing’s comments after Zita continued to ask questions. Zita then asked Downing whether they are scheduled to approve the ILA agreement by next Monday.

“Check your packet, check your website,” Downing responded. Zita stood firm, “that’s an inadequate response. If the commission’s to be asked to approve this on Monday, we need an adequate discussion.” 

“Well Commissioner Zita, you are a port commissioner, if you read your emails you look at the schedule of events. I’m not gonna do your homework for you,” Downing said. Zita responded that issuing an action by Monday is “premature” and that the board needs to conduct further discussion.

Later in the meeting, McGregor asked if they could reconvene or set another meeting to discuss the revisions. At that point, Zita accused Downing of purposely muting her in the call. “I formally object to being muted in the meeting, I formally object to the commission's chair's arbitrary decision in the middle of the presentation that no questions would be accepted. This process has been rushed.”

Next meeting is next Monday

On Mon., Aug. 23 at 5:30 p.m., the Port is set to issue an action regarding the ILA. Related to this, the Tumwater City Council will also conduct a hearing and action next month.


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  • SLSilvet2021

    There is no need to put “rushed” in quotation marks. Despite the 11-month process, Commissioner Zita is correct in that the Port Commission has pushed through this decision without the transparency and accountability required.

    What is the cost of remediation for this site? Why do the taxpayers bear this total cost?

    Assurances are nice — but assurances are not legally binding. Where are the contracted, legal protections needed for Bush Middle School and the community?

    Why were over 100 written comments to the Port opposing this action disregarded? Why wasn’t the City of Tumwater a partner in this action from the very beginning?

    The Port taxes and taxes and yet is not held accountable for what it does with out money. The Port owes $36.5 million due to long-term obligation bond debt. Why is the Port taking on yet more debt in mitigation costs?

    This deal has been on the agenda for 11 months but Commissioner Zita is right — this process, locking in a potential 55-year lease with extension options, has not been given the attention and detailed examination it requires.

    Sunday, August 22, 2021 Report this