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City and Cascadia cut a new deal

Neil Johnson -
Neil Johnson
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The Courier-Herald

Let's make a deal - that's just what the Cascadia Corporation and the city of Bonney Lake did last week.

At a special, Thursday night meeting of the City Council, members unanimously approved a resolution adopting a revised traffic mitigation agreement with the development company.

Cascadia plans on building a 6,500 home, employment-based development south of the city along 198th Avenue East.

The agreement was hammered out during two negotiating sessions, the first one May 26 and the second May 30.

The highlight of the settlement calls for Cascadia to pay the city's portion of the South Prairie Road project, estimated at about $1.9 million. That amount may increase depending on right-of-way costs.

The plan is to expand the South Prairie Road East to five lanes with a right turn onto state Route 410 and another off South Prairie road onto 200th Court East.

“We couldn't have asked for a better negotiation,” Mayor Neil Johnson said. “This will help relieve congestion on (state Route) 410 and South Prairie Road. It shows what can be done when everyone is on the same page.”

The agreement calls for Cascadia to pay “all of the City's out-of-pocket cost and expenses for the South Prairie Road Project, including but not limited to planning, traffic studies, right of way acquisitions, design, utility relocation, construction, construction contingency, construction management, and traffic signal inspection fees.”

Another important element of the agreement, according to city officials, is Bonney Lake no longer must share traffic mitigation contributions from developers and fees collected in latecomer's agreements with Cascadia.

This allows the city to keep fees collected in the future from developers and big-box stores like Lowe's, which submitted a site plan for a store to be located across from Albertsons on South Prairie Road.

The settlement also means the city can keep the traffic impact fees it has collected since 2003, when the council passed an ordinance allowing the fees assessed against developments.

The timeline of the negotiation began with an April 29 executive session, according to Johnson. The city spent $15,000 in legal fees for city attorney Jim Dionne to bring all the information together for the council and city staff to review.

“I wanted us to review all of the facts,” Johnson said. “When I came into office I asked the council if we wanted to put resources into this and they agreed. I wanted all of us to know where this started and how and from there we could put a game plan together.”

Once the council and staff reviewed the documents, the members decided to approach Cascadia concerning the South Prairie Road project.

The City Council had approved the project, but the low bid came in about $500,000 higher than Pierce County's engineers' estimate.

The bid proposal from Woodworth and Company, in Tacoma, was set to expire May 26, but was extended one week with no cost increases, giving the city and Cascadia time to negotiate a revised agreement.

“To me this story shows when parties want to be straightforward and work things out, things get worked out,” said senior vice president of Cascadia Chuck Lappenbusch. “This is actions speaking louder than words.”

Public Works Director Dan Grigsby said work will begin in July and be completed by the spring of 2007.

After Cascadia builds the first 1,700 homes in phase one, the city will negotiate for more traffic mitigation funds for phase two and three.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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