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Bonney Lake council approves development of forest

Post by Melissa Santos / The Olympian on Dec. 22, 2009 at 11:25 pm with 8 Comments »
December 22, 2009 11:25 pm

Bonney Lake officials agreed Tuesday to let a developer build homes and retail buildings over two-thirds of its 147-acre urban forest, provided that the development doesn’t result in an additional traffic light on the city’s main highway.

The Bonney Lake City Council approved a development agreement Tuesday that will replace the Washington State University demonstration forest with 65 acres of homes and 35 acres of retail and medical offices.

The remaining 47 acres of the forest will go to Bonney Lake officials, who plan to use the land for a new YMCA facility and new sports fields, Mayor Neil Johnson said Tuesday. The forest, owned by WSU, grows in the middle of Bonney Lake and has been closed to the public since 2006.

Mayor Johnson said the development agreement gives the city a chance to take a sizable chunk of the forest area and preserve it for public use. WSU and Weyerhaeuser, Co., have been working to develop the forest since about 2005.

“Our biggest fear is that if we don’t get anything agreed to, they could log the whole piece and replant it,” Johnson said before Tuesday’s meeting. “This is the time for us to take advantage of an opportunity.”

The agreement is still subject to final approval by WSU officials and Weyerhaeuser, Co. executives, who haven’t yet signed off on the city council’s condition that no traffic light accompany a proposed connector road between Highway 410 and South Prairie Road.

Without language prohibiting the traffic light on Highway 410, the city council wouldn’t have approved the development agreement Tuesday. Council members voted 4-3 against a version of the agreement that allowed the traffic light before passing an amended proposal minutes later.

The traffic light would have created another stop-and-go point on the highway that already has too much congestion, council members said.

“People have said we will never allow Bonney Lake to become South Hill— we will never allow 410 to become Meridian,” said Councilman David Bowen, referring to the congested stretch of Meridian Avenue East south of Puyallup. “I cannot support this unless there is clear language that there will be no light.”

Some citizens said they don’t feel like the agreement saves enough of the forest. Much of the 47 acres going to the city for public use will need to be clear cut to make way for the city’s proposed YMCA and sports fields, said Bonney Lake resident Fred Jacobsen, who opposed the development agreement in public hearings.

“Ballparks don’t have trees in them, especially when they are soccer fields,” Jacobsen said prior to Tuesday’s meeting. “We might end up with a couple of acres of trees left.”

Councilwoman Laurie Carter was the only council member who didn’t vote for the amended version of the development agreement Tuesday. She said that she was still concerned the deal gives the city too little park space and that there isn’t enough financial support yet to start planning a YMCA on the site.

She said that the city’s 47 acres will really amount to more like 30 to 33 acres of developable land due to storm water infiltration areas that the agreement places on the city’s share of the property. Factoring in the storm water pools, there won’t be enough room for the four ballfields city officials would like to build, she said.

“It would be too tight of a squeeze,” Carter said.

Officials with WSU and Quadrant Corp., a Weyerhaeuser subsidiary, have been working with Bonney Lake officials for four years to negotiate a development agreement for the forest, which the university once used for educational purposes and 4H activities.

Pete Lymberis, a senior development manager with Quadrant, said Tuesday that WSU and Weyerhaeuser executives will probably decide in the next week whether they are willing to sign the agreement as amended by the Bonney Lake City Council. All parties must sign the agreement by Dec. 31 for the city’s rezone of the forest area to become effective next year. The new zoning plan will change the land-use designation of the forest area to allow the commercial and residential construction proposed in the development agreement.

Bonney Lake
Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. Way to go Bonney Lake- the insatiable lust for sales tax revenue outweighs your citizens need for open sapace and solid urban planning. Yet another reason for me to never drive 410 through your strip mall of a city. Have fun in the traffic.

  2. snoopy123 says:

    Come on, is this some sort of joke? Is this really going to get built? What ever happened to Cascadia anyways.

  3. Twilight says:

    I totally agree with JTAC’s comment. What will happen is all those beautiful trees will be totally wiped out, and every single available inch of space will be sucked up with yet even more high density homes (which our roads can’t handle the traffic as it is now) and more people, more crime and no more open space. Why does Bonney Lake have to be South Hill #2. I drive 25 miles one way on my way to work and pass through Bonney Lake morning and night. It takes up to 20 – 30 mins just to drive a mile through because of all the additional traffic. It sucks! I bet those people that are all for more and more strip malls (yeh, bring em on) and more homes squeezed in that there is not room for) don’t have to deal with all the traffic mess! I think something more appealing to the people would have been a nice park or open land for recreation which seems to be diminishing more and more everyday. This decison by the so-called powers that be in Bonney Lake is absolutely ridiculous. I was there at a couple city council meetings. I saw where this was going. The people aginst this might as well have not even been there for all that they were heard!
    I do not reside in Bonney Lake and am glad of it. But I do have to commute through it. All I see happening with the development of this land is trouble!
    I’m sad to see what city officials have planned for it. All they see are dollar signs.

  4. blueghetto says:

    All that is in the forest now are dope smokers, criminals, and wild animals. You ever see the two legged creatures coming out of the woods to the back side of Safeway & Walmart?

    I’m all for trees and open space. But, the way it is now isn’t useable.

  5. justin_yorbum says:

    I’m sure glad to hear that the economy has rebounded to the point where new housing and commercial developments are needed!

    I hope they build a McDonalds and maybe a Starbucks, you can never find one of those places when you need em.

    Good job, Bonney Lake!

  6. Just what we need up here – more houses. Why don’t you try getting residents into the houses that aren’t selling before building more of them! More traffic – more congestion. I would suggest that the city try finding another source of revenue – as this is our last hold of forest in the area and then where are they going to get their money from?? Most importantly, what is going to happen to all of the wildlife that live in that forest? Where the heck are they supposed to go – they are surrounded on all sides by busy roads. REALLY NICE – I hope you never have to run for your life from your home. Way to go, Bonney Lake! I’ve lived here all of my life and hope to move as soon as possible. You’ve taken a beautiful community/area and turned it into a congested nightmare.

  7. imaginetr says:

    Well this is no surprise. It’s just too big a revenue plot for B.L. not to grab this and develop it. But look, years ago B.L. was best know for its Tavern. It was a little jewel up there but there was little or no money to keep it up. You had a mix of pilots and dopers living up there. They’ve come a long way mainly via the strip mall route but it did bring in some money. Still, it’s a schizo layed out place, split down the middle with a painful hwy 410 clogging up the place. It does seem as if it is headed straight for a “south hill” copy cat. I don’t think anything can stop this. It’s crazy to think that some ‘language’ about not putting a light in will help this in any way. When they do start developing, they really need to find someone with vision and not whomever has been planning up there. Good luck, but I don’t see much beauty coming out of it.

  8. DrWernerKlopek says:

    Bonney Lake is run by soulless individuals who keep on building one strip mall and subdivision after another. Urban sprawl at it’s finest. Have the traffic funnel back onto 410. Watch it take one hour to get through town. No planning whatever since planning is all a “liberal plot to destroy American Freedoms.” It is no wonder that area keeps voting Republican. Unless it enhances their wallets they do not care and it shows.

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