Lacey City Council eliminates cap on warehouse sizes

November 13th, 2015

Target site.jpg

Lacey, Wash., November 13, 2015 - What appeared to be a routine case of zoning code amendments turned into a much bigger issue Thursday when the Lacey City Council voted to eliminate the 500,000-square-foot cap on warehouse sizes in city areas zoned for light-industrial use.

The decision clears the way for an additional 700,000-square-foot development at the Hawks Prairie 111 Corporate Center. That site, owned by Seattle-based Teutsch Partners, is already home to two distribution centers: one for Trader Joe’s, the other for Harbor Wholesale Foods.

Teutsch now wants to bring a third distribution warehouse to the site for Medline Industries, an Illinois-based distributor and manufacturer of medical equipment, according to the city.

Lacey council members have wrestled with warehouse sizes in Hawks Prairie for years, after Target built a 2 million-square-foot warehouse and Home Depot built a 750,000-square-foot building in 2002.

Since then, there have been moratoriums and caps on warehouse sizes. The council agreed to cap warehouse sizes at 200,000 square feet in 2006. That was increased to 500,000 square feet in 2010 as long as certain design requirements were met.

Community Development Director Rick Walk noted Thursday that the increase to 500,000 square feet allowed the city to bring Harbor Wholesale Foods and Trader Joe’s to Hawks Prairie.

Although past councils have wrestled with allowing larger warehouses, the current council did not. Following a few questions about design requirements, the council voted unanimously to eliminate the size cap.

Thursday’s proposal had come before the council as a planning commission recommendation. The volunteer body also had voted unanimously to eliminate the cap, said Ryan Andrews, planning commission manager.

Here are some of the development requirements:

▪ When adjacent to a residential zone, a 100-foot natural tree buffer must be established.

▪ When a site is adjacent to a residential zone, the applicant will be encouraged to meet with homeowner associations or neighborhood groups to provide project and contact information to the residents.

One of those homeowner associations — Campus Glen Neighborhood Association — has sent a letter asking that the city do something about the noise created by the “dreaded back-up beeper” on vehicles that operate at warehouses.

“We in Campus Glen feel we are in no danger of being backed over by a forklift,” wrote Campus Glen board member John Matykowski. “Yet these ‘beepers’ drone on and are very audible to all community residents throughout the day and night.”

Matykowski suggests in the letter that the council adopt the mandatory use of “white noise” back-up warning devices.

Walk said Thursday that the beepers are hard to regulate because they are safety features.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many jobs the new warehouse would create, but they are job creators, according to one supporter who sent a letter to the city.

Harbor Wholesale Foods Chairman Mike Erickson expects employment at his business to grow to more than 220, while Trader Joe’s employs more than 500, according to his letter.

“Lifting the cap will position Lacey to attract more blue chip companies to the community,” he said.