Interim tideflats rules inch forward

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Photo by Steve Dunkelberger

The Tacoma Planning Commission continues its discussions on a roster of interim regulations for Tacoma’s Tideflats that would be in place while city and port officials undergo a multi-year review of zoning regulations for the working waterfront. The work, called a subarea plan, is just starting as similar work for the area around the Tacoma Mall is up for public review and comment through the fall.

The Planning Commission met this week to again study a draft of the proposed interim regulations after the City of Tacoma and Port of Tacoma agreed to fund a full review of the waterfront in response to the rise of public concern about planned fossil fuel and heavy industrial developments in the area, namely the now-dead natural gas-to-methanol plant, the planned reactivation of a long-dormant gravel mine in Northeast Tacoma and Puget Sound Energy’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant that is currently under construction.

The idea of having interim regulations now rather than wait for the subarea plan’s roster of changes is to tighten restrictions so future controversial projects wouldn’t be filed during the review process. The commission will release the draft recommendations and hold a public hearing on them next month, although a public hearing is not required since they will also be held before they are considered by the City Council.

Much of the recommendations involve creating buffers between residential and commercial uses, extending the public notification efforts for large developments and prohibit “high impact” projects until the subarea plan work is completed, particularly since the commission has already received public comments against fossil fuel projects.

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