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Tacoma moves closer to vote on development restrictions in Tideflats

Tacoma city leaders are closing-in on a vote to cap growth in the Tideflats, but the restrictions environmentalists are fighting for has businesses concerned. (Photo: KOMO News)

TACOMA, Wash. – City leaders are closing-in on a vote to cap growth in the Tideflats, but the restrictions environmentalists are fighting for has businesses concerned.

A capacity crowd turned out for the first reading of the ordinance that would temporarily ban some heavy industry outright - such as new coal and oil terminals. Fossil fuel facilities already in the Tideflats would face severe restrictions on expansion.

“These interim regulations are crucial to protect our communities from the pollution and health risks associated with major fossil fuel projects," said Sarah Cornett with Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, who addressed councilmembers during the hearing on Tuesday night.

However, business groups believe existing regulations are enough to protect the area. They added that the temporary changes being considered are a sure way to drive out economic growth.

“The proposed regulations are a direct threat to the family-wage, benefit-rich jobs that are currently down in the designated industrial sites," said Mark Martinez with Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council.

A final vote is set for November 21 on whether or not to adopt these short-term restrictions, though it is not the last say on the matter. Ultimately, these regulations will be replaced by more comprehensive guidelines still being drafted.

It is known as the "subarea plan," which is being negotiated by city leaders, port officials, the Puyallup Tribe and other agencies. The document is meant to serve as a detailed road map for future land-use decisions in the Tideflats, and is expected to take several more years to hash-out.

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