Growth area grows for research facility that provides ‘broader’ benefit for Sequim, Clallam County

PORT ANGELES — The Sequim Urban Growth Area will expand eastward by 105 acres — allowing a Battelle facility access to city water and sewer service — when an ordinance approved by the three Clallam County commissioners on Tuesday takes effect Dec. 31.

The ordinance changes the zoning designation from rural low to a new “research and development park” district.

Battelle, which operates the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s marine operations facility on Sequim Bay, requested the change to tap into city sewer and water services.

Having reached its on-site well and septic capacities, Battelle needed city services to its expand its operations.

The Sequim City Council approved the expansion last month.

“I think it’s very, very important to Sequim,” said Don Hall, who was elected to the City Council in the Nov. 3 general election.

Increase employment

“I think it’s very important to Clallam County, and I think it’s very important to the state of Washington. The expansion is necessary, and will increase employment with all kinds of benefits.”

The City Council on Nov. 9 voted unanimously to amend its comprehensive plan and expand the urban growth area.

The Clallam County Planning Commission followed up Nov. 18 by voting unanimously to recommend the proposal.

Dennis Lefevre, Sequim planning director, described a “good, coordinated effort” between city and county staff. The process has taken the better part of two years.

Lab expansion

Some 70 scientists on the 140-acre campus are working on, among other things, ways to harness ocean waves and tides for renewable energy.

The Sequim marine sciences laboratory is hiring engineers to work on such projects, but it couldn’t expand its staff unless Sequim provided water and sewer service.

“I would like to thank everyone who has been working in this process now for a considerable time,” said Dwight Hughes, facilities manager for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

“They’ve done an excellent job. The end product will really work well for us, and we’re right now poised to be able to really proceed on some new energy initiatives at this particular site.”

Less than two years

Hughes said the switch to city service could be accomplished in less than two years.

All three speakers an the public hearing favored the proposal.

Commissioner Steve Tharinger, whose district includes the eastern third of Clallam County, said he had some initial concerns that the area could become residential.

But those concerns were mitigated by county and city planners, he said.

Forest and eagle habitat near the facility will be protected under the research and development park district, Clallam County Planning Director Steve Gray said.

“Really, the benefit to the broader community is to have a research center here and have this property available for a research center for both the research itself, and the jobs and developing that part of our economy in Clallam County,” Tharinger said.

Generate interest

Commissioner Mike Doherty said the research could generate national and international interest.

“Thanks for your presence in Clallam County,” Doherty told Hughes.

In the second of two public hearings, the commissioners approved an ordinance to rezone a 74-acre parcel along U.S. Highway 101 from commercial forest to commercial forest residential mixed use 20.

The allowable density will change from one home per 80 acres to one per 19.6 acres when it takes effect on Dec. 31.

The parcel is located about seven miles west of Lake Crescent. It is bisected by the state highway between Mileposts 213 and 214.

Paul and Paul Partnership purchased the land from Rayonier in 2006 and submitted the rezone request, which the Planning Commission voted 5-2 on Nov. 18 to endorse.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at [email protected]

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