Consideration of Transporation Improvement Program tabled after road widening raises concerns

A public hearing for the city of Bonney Lake’s six-year Transportation Improvement Program attracted criticism from residents of the residential streets immediately east of the Justice & Municipal Center. The comments prompted the City Council, by a 5-2 vote, to table consideration of the plan until the Aug. 20 workshop.

Every year, cities are required to submit their foreseeable road, trail and sidewalk projects to the state — whether they ultimately happen or not. This year, one particular project raised ire from residents of 88th Street East, and 186th and 188th avenues east: a proposal to widen each street’s right-of-way by 10 feet. The project would expand longitudinal 186th to the west, latitudinal 88th to the north and 188th to the east, for the purpose of accommodating anticipated traffic following completion of Tarragon’s Renwood Apartments.

But residents, a landlord and their sympathizers were none-too-keen on the idea of losing yard space and the relative solitude of their low-traffic roads.

“I am concerned about that right-of-way increase,” Shawnta Mulligan said at the hearing. Mulligan is not a resident of the affected streets but, in the past year, she has become an advocate for property rights in the city and a candidate for council. “I understand that (Renwood) is going through. But I’m disappointed that people who have their property on their street and who have lived there, some of them all their lives, all will have to forego 10 feet. And I feel like that, the 10 feet, is just the tip of the iceberg because that street is part of the city’s downtown ‘Nirvana’ … and I respect the vision of trying to build a centralized local place, but we aren’t Sumner and we’ll never be Sumner.”

After Mayor Neil Johnson checked whether the public hearing had been advertised in the usual channels, Mulligan suggested advertising with signs on the affected streets would be appropriate; Johnson said it was a method the city hadn’t used but could be useful in the future.

Neighborhood resident John Maddox, a self-identified “firstborn son of Bonney Lake,” said whether the city wanted one square foot or the whole of his mother’s home he wanted $900,000 cash.

James McClimans Sr., another council hopeful, said he was concerned the city would use condemnation to obtain right of way. He added that the Renwood project would change the character of the neighborhood in which residents had chosen to live.

“There are things a council can do, and the things it should do,” he said.

Neighborhood landlord Linda Youngberg came to the meeting from out of town after renters called her with their concerns.

“I knew nothing about what was going on with the (Renwood apartments),” she said. “How I’m seeing this, the little dots (the right of way expansion boundary) run through a piece of property that I own and my daughter owns.”

Youngberg added she believed she hadn’t received appropriate notice about the plan.

Johnson responded Renwood Apartments LLC, though it had gone through the environmental impact process, had not filed permits or given notice to begin development and thus the apartment project was not yet concrete.

“What the plan would be, to widen the road… we might not do it,” he said. “Council could change its mind.”

Councilman Mark Hamilton asked Public Works Director Dan Grigbsy to clarify the Transportation Improvement Program as a non-binding plan submitted to the state.

“It does not set priorities, it does not encumber money,” Grigsby said. “It is strictly based on what the city engineer and the development engineer are aware of might happen where future roads might be built.”

Neighborhood resident Lee Davidson said he didn’t want greater traffic flow to endanger children playing in and near the street.

“It’s already tight streets, I know (widening) would improve it,” Davidson said. “That would be a help. The problem we have with living there — I live on the corner — is if the apartments go in, the way the streets appear to be designed, it will funnel all those people through our neighborhood instead of … out into the main roads quickly.

“I’d love to see the roads improved, but not at the risk of our children.”

With the citizen concerns, the council voted to table consideration of the TIP until the Aug. 20 workshop. An Aug. 6 workshop is cancelled for National Night Out Against Crime.