I live in an Urban Growth Area outside the Centralia city limits. I have to abide by the rules and regulations set up for that area, and have no choice in the matter. I cannot vote for any Centralia city offices, yet those people make the rules with which I have to obey. I pay several hundred dollars to the Port of Centralia yearly, again assessed without my ability to vote on those taxes.
Now STIHL, waving the cliché banner of “jobs, jobs jobs”, wants to build in the Centralia Urban Growth Area. They are upset that they have to play by the same rules that govern others, as well as me and my property. They want to ignore the regulations and do their own thing. STIHL is unhappy that they have to satisfy Centralia, Lewis County, and the Port, and each entity seems to be pointing the finger at the other. Some would call it a circular firing squad. Port Executive Director Kyle Heaton calls it a “bureaucratic boondoggle.” The county, city, and port are trying to find a way around the development codes for STIHL, or at least a way to “bend” the rules and the letter of the law that apply. Who knows, maybe there’s a way to overlook the codes with some legal flexibility, “wink, wink”.
STHIL is playing the old playground game. They have their ball, and if you don’t play by what they want, they’ll take their ball and go home. It looks like another case of the Port having dropped their ball too, just like with Centralia Station and Fred Meyer. You can only blame so much on delays and appeals, until it begins to look like someone didn’t do their homework, and now everyone is trying to justify their tardy preparation.
Lost in all of this mess is the fact that there are development codes to be followed, and they were put into place for good reasons, not the least of which is to make sure our cities and county are maintained as livable, attractive and worthwhile places to live and work. Sidewalks, curbing, gutters, lighting, good roads, are all a part of that. It’s a slippery slope each time codes are waived, and this isn’t the time or place to concede to any developer. The city and county should be decent places to live, and our officials and staff should hold to that.
I suggest Centralia and Lewis County stand fast, and not just rollover and give in to “jobs, jobs, jobs.”