Cities looking to expand their influence were met with unanimous rejection last week.
Buckley, Carbonado and Bonney Lake had asked the Pierce County Planning Commission to expand their Urban Growth Areas – in some cases adding small parcels and minimal acreage, in other cases taking in large and valuable chunks of real estate.
While Buckley and Carbonado had filed just one request each with Pierce County, Bonney Lake was much more ambitious, putting eight requests into the hopper. While county planners had recommended that nine of the 10 be denied, the Planning Commission went one step further and turned thumbs down on all.
Each of the 10 requests had been debated during a Dec. 9 public hearing in Tacoma. Members of the Planning Commission deliberated during evening sessions Dec. 10 and 11 before rendering their decisions.
The UGA process is now three-quarters complete. Cities made their proposal, county staff offered recommendations and the Planning Commission has issued its verdict. All that remains is a vote by the Pierce County Council, which is not bound to follow recommendations by staff or the commission.Action by the council isn’t expected to until mid-February, at least.
Cities ask for their Urban Growth Areas to be expanded for a variety of reasons, but a common element is that such requests involve rural land being changed to something allowing higher density. And, while expanding a UGA does not mean annexation, it’s a start. Land cannot be annexed into a city unless it’s first in a UGA.
Here are the following requests considered last week by the Pierce County Planning Commission.
Carbonado: the small town’s proposal would have seen land designations change from Forest Lands and Rural 20 to Moderate Density Single-Family. The proposal includes 22 parcels totaling approximately 686 acres. County staff said the city lacks the necessary infrastructure to handle growth and, further, that an expanded UGA would not help protect the city’s watershed.
Buckley: The city’s proposal would see land use designations changed from Agricultural Resource Lands, Forest Lands, Park and Recreation and Rural to Moderate Density Single-Family and Neighborhood Commercial. The proposed area includes 112 parcels totaling approximately 899 acres.The Planning Commission heard arguments from both sides: from those wanting their rural land protected from encroachment to land owners seeking the ability to divide their property for commercial gain.
The city had argued that it needs more land conducive to commercial development, if it is to show healthy growth.
Bonney Lake’s most contentious proposal dealt with the Tehaleh community springing to life south of the city, a proposal taking in 816 parcels spread over 5,000 acres.
It was the only request garnering staff support, meaning it was the only case in which the commission ran contrary to staff opinion.
Those who helped fill an overflowing room Dec. 9 were clear in their opposition to being part of an expanded Urban Growth Area.
Laura Valentine presented a petition signed by 210 property owners who asked that the commission reject the UGA plan.
“We don’t want to inherit Bonney Lake’s problems,” she said. “When we go through Bonney Lake, we don’t see good urban planning; we don’t see planning at all.”
Scott Jones, general manager for Newland Communities, which is building homes at Tehaleh, disputed the notion that Bonney Lake could adequately provide services to the planned community.
He echoed the sentiments of many, who spoke of the day when Tehaleh becomes an independent, incorporated city.
Jones asked, “Shouldn’t the residents of Tehaleh have the right to choose their own government?”
The seven other UGA proposals filed by the city of Bonney Lake are as follows:
U-1 – This is identified as “city center,” sough of 96th Avenue East. It involves 31 parcels of land spread over approximately 73 acres. The land-use designation would change from Reserve 5 to Community Center.
U-2 – Involves 10 parcels totaling almost 30 acres, sitting north of 96th Avenue East and west of 214th Avenue. The land use designation would change from Rural 10 and Agricultural Resource Lands to Moderate Density Single-Family.
U-3 – Takes in 123 parcels and almost 80 acres, all west of 234th and immediately north of Entwhistle Road. Land use would change from Rural 10 and Reserve 5 to Moderate Density Single-Family and Community Center.
U-4 – This is in the Falling Waters/Creekside area and involves 466 parcels over 840 acres. Land use is changed from Reserve 5, Rural 10 and Agricultural Resource Lands to Moderate Density Single-Family.
U-5 – In the Fennel Creek corridor, the proposal takes in 62 parcels and 330 acres. Land use would change from Reserve 5 and Agricultural Resource Lands to Moderate Density Single-Family.
U-6 – The largest of the city proposals in terms of parcels with 2,080, this totals 587 acres in the Prairie Ridge vicinity. Land use would change from Reserve 5 to Community Center and Moderate Density Single-Family.
U-8 – A complex area west of Lake Tapps, this would expand the city’s Urban Growth Area by 2,457 acres and the city’s Urban Service Area by approximately 2,772 acres. Land use designations would change from Reserve 5 (20 acres), roral 10 (2,437 acres) and Neighborhood Center (three acres) to Moderate Density Single-Family. Approximately 311 acres would remain as Moderate Density Single-Family.