News

Zoning plan leaves citizens steamed

Buckley residents will get another chance to make feelings known

By Casey Steiner

The Courier-Herald

In a second heated public hearing in less than 30 days, little progress was made at the March 9 Buckley Planning Commission meeting toward settling a dispute over the possible rezoning of 795 acres of residential land.

An emotional crowd of more than 100 listened and watched intently in the Elk Ridge Elementary multipurpose room as the commission made a slide show presentation detailing potential changes to accommodate the city's projected future growth. Then, one after another, residents of the small town trekked to the podium to share their concerns and dissatisfaction with the commission's plan.

Applause broke out several times as residents expressed their wish to maintain the city's small-town feel. Some said they could accept some controlled growth to the city's population and many stated their understanding of the wish to bolster business and provide more affordable housing. But residents showed a general resistance to drastic change based upon a fear of rising taxes, close neighbors and a change to their lifestyle.

With so many residents still unsatisfied with the newest plan, the commission will likely revisit the entire plan at an upcoming Monday-evening meetings and hold another public hearing some time in April.

"I really doubt that this proposal as it stands will go through," city administrator David Schmidt said. "They'll probably begin taking a look at the record, discuss some different options and probably make some revisions. We're probably looking at another public hearing next month."

Residents in Buckley have grown uncomfortable as neighboring Bonney Lake has more than doubled in size in recent years. Many of the 4,500 residents are comfortable with the small-town country feel of Buckley and fear the ever-expanding growth along the state Route 410 corridor.

With current limitations based upon drinking water permits and sewer connections, Buckley can in some ways control its expansion. Utility upgrades and the proposed rezoning would allow for growth of nearly 2,800 by cramming five and sometimes eight housing units per acre.

Once satisfied with its design - after at least one more promised public hearing - the planning commission will make its recommendations to the city council.

Casey Steiner can be reached at csteiner@courierherald.com.

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