Buckley housing proposal is back

By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald

The White River Ridge Subdivision, which would eventually include a new housing development in Buckley, is one step closer to becoming reality, but there is still much to be done.

The Buckley City Council unanimously approved the preliminary plat application at its Sept. 10 meeting after adding the provisions that street lights should be designed to reduce light pollution and all street names should have historical significance.

This is not the first time the plat has gone before the council. A first plat was approved in 1998, but was controversial and wound up being appealed by a citizens' environmental group, City Administrator Dave Schmidt said.

The courts ruled in favor of the city, and the previous plat didn't receive full approval until May of 2001. That plat approval was for the first phase of 60 lots out of a total of 120 lots to be developed on 60 acres of ground with sewer system hookups.

The plan was changed and a new plat was submitted in December of last year by Sue Bowen-Hahto and Apex Engineering. This time the plan was for 72 lots to be developed on the same 60 acres, near Ryan Road; the plan will be developed in a single phase and septic systems will be used, rather than a sewer system.

Schmidt said he wasn't sure how the council was going to vote on the issue because the previous plat was so heated.

And while the council approved the tentative plat approval, the process is far from complete, Schmidt said.

The council still has to give offical approval of the preliminary plat application once city staff prepares all the facts and findings involved and the council has to approve those facts and findings.

Once that decision has been made and a notice of decision has been posted, opponents have 21 days to challenge the decision.

If no one challenges the decision, White River Ridge engineers still have to complete and provide detailed contstruction and engineering plans, which will be reviewed by the city and continue to be reviewed until they meet local, state and federal standards. White River Ridge has five years to do that and submit a final plat for approval.

"So, building could be five years away," Schmidt said.

He said he's uncertain if anyone plans to appeal the council's decision, but if they did, the city was prepared to defend its decision.

He said there didn't seem to be so much opposition to this plat approval, with only four citizens voicing concern about various issues including the use of septic systems, water run-off and drainage. But Schmidt said there were still plenty of steps to be taken to minimize risks to the city, environment or other residents of Buckley.

"We're going to make every effort to make sure that they are going to deal with any problem that could come up," Schmidt said.

In other news, the City Council:

€ approved a Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program for 2004-2009. The first project, beginning in 2005, would be a C Street Sidewalk project that would complete the sidewalks on one side of the street from Main to Jefferson streets. Two sidewalks are scheduled to be repaved in 2006: a Spruce Street project, completing one side of the street from Main Street to Mason Avenue; and a D Street project, completing sidewalks on one side of the street from Main Street to Mason Avenue. The plan is required by the state and is non-binding.

€ awarded the Ryan Road Water Improvement project to A&A Excavating in the amount of $276,363, plus design and construction engineering costs. The project includes replacing 4,200 feet of water main. The city received a grant from the EPA for $249,480, with the city matching $204,120, but because the project cost is significantly less than was originally estimated ($378,424.40), the city may be able to expand the project for additional footage, which will be made in a formal change order later in construction.

€ authorized the mayor to sign an agreement to have the annual street striping done by the Pierce County Public Works Department for no more than $10,000.

€ heard a report from Fire Chief Alan Predmore regarding whether the city could provide fire and medical aid services for the town of South Prairie. Predmore recommended the city take a "wait and see" approach before deciding to enter into an agreement with South Prairie.

Jessica Keller can be reached at

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