The City of Kent has put an emergency ban on trucking businesses as the city council looks into the impact big warehouses have on its roads and tax revenue.
The city council unanimously approved an emergency interim zoning ordinance that places a ban on any new permits for businesses involved in trucking. The purpose is to buy time as city leaders work to maximize the uses of its land.
Hayley Bonsteel, the city's long-range planning manager, told the council the ordinance is about regulating those business that primarily use trucks to transport their goods.
The city has seen an acceleration in the development of large warehouses, especially in the Kent Valley. Some companies are even retrofitting existing warehouse to increase capacity and the volume of goods shipped out in trucks.
With more trucks on the streets of Kent, the city council said that hurts roads and traffic. And taxpayers foot the maintenance costs of fixing roads damaged by heavy freight use.
Additionally, changes to the state's sales tax structure has taken revenue away from the city. In 2008, the Legislature changed the law to make taxes on online sales destination-based rather than origin-based.
City Councilmember Dennis Higgins said the change to state law "greatly altered the fate" of Kent.
"Fact of the matter is, trucking intensive uses of our city that don't result in taxable transactions that provide revenue to the city of public services, including street maintenance, are uses we can't afford without thoughtful dialog," he said.
The ordinance says that this influx of bulk warehouses may be attractive now as new business flows into the area and creates jobs. However, these warehouses have limited adaptability to become something else as the economy changes.
Without further regulations, the city could suffer consequences in the future, according to the ordinance.
The interim zoning changes in the ordinance would be on new buildings and additions to current buildings to limit the number of loading doors per 40,000 square feet to one. New buildings are also limited to 125,000 square feet.
Mayor Dana Ralph applauded the unanimous decision, saying when the state changed the way it sorted sales tax, business as usual ceased. She said it's "important we take our destiny into our own hands."