Moscow annexes SEL property

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories recently purchased this 150-acre parcel of land (center) west of U.S. Highway 95 just south of Moscow. The land will be used for future expansion of the business, which is based in Pullman.

The city of Moscow grew more than 150 acres Monday night after the city council annexed recently purchased Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories property on the south end of town into the city.

Per SEL’s request, the council unanimously approved: annexing 156 acres — 154 of which belongs to Pullman-based SEL — into the city; changing the Comprehensive Plan land use designation from a combination of Auto-Urban Commercial, High-Density Residential, Auto-Urban Residential and Rural and Agricultural to the Auto-Urban Commercial designation; and rezoning the property from the Agriculture Forestry Zone to the Motor Business Zone.

The remaining 2 acres of the 156 are three remnant parcels that would have become county islands surrounded by the city, according to Monday’s council packet. In accordance with the city’s annexation policy, the owners of the three parcels were contacted and the council expanded SEL’s annexation request to include the island parcels with the same Comprehensive Plan land use and zoning designations as SEL’s.

Councilor Sandra Kelly said having SEL in Moscow is great for the city, county and state.

“I think it would be a tremendous way for people to enter the city,” Kelly said at the mostly virtual council meeting.

Five of the six councilors participated virtually. Councilor Art Bettge and Mayor Bill Lambert were present in City Hall’s council chambers.

SEL, which invents, designs and builds digital products and systems that protect power grids around the world, announced the purchase of the land, located on U.S. Highway 95 near CHS Primeland, two and a half months ago.

SEL Vice President of Property Jana Schultheis said at Monday’s meeting that she does not know what type of facilities SEL will build on the land. If the company chooses to expand on the land, she estimated it would be within five years.

Schultheis said SEL has 120 acres in Pullman and it is down to about 20 buildable acres.

She said the company studied a number of locations to expand but ultimately circled back to Moscow.

Hailey Lewis, SEL’s government affairs specialist, said of the 5,200 SEL employees worldwide, 650 of them live in Moscow and commute to either the Pullman or Lewiston facilities.

“We’re really, really excited to grow in Moscow sustainably and as we need to to address our business needs, and the city of Moscow’s made it really easy and appealing to want to grow into Moscow,” Lewis said.

No one spoke during the public comment period of the public hearing.

In other business, the council approved:

An ordinance on third reading that amends the city’s telecommunications code to establish standards for small cell wireless (5G) facilities.

A cooperative lighting agreement and resolution with the Idaho Transportation Department.

As part of the upcoming Highway 95 realignment project, the ITD is proposing to install nine new street luminaires that would extend from the existing bridge crossing of the South Fork of the Palouse River to the future intersection of the new Highway 95 and Old Highway 95 intersection just south of the CHS Primeland’s grain silos, according to Monday’s council packet. As is common for ITD projects, ITD installs the light fixtures and the city assumes the responsibility for the future electrical and maintenance costs of the lights, which is what the agreement outlines.

A mutual aid agreement with the Idaho Department of Lands.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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