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Second appeal filed in ongoing Camp Murray gate debate

Post by Christian Hill / The News Tribune on April 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm with No Comments »
April 23, 2012 3:56 pm

Tillicum neighbors have appealed for a second time a decision by Lakewood city officials allowing Camp Murray to relocate its main gate closer to homes.

Pat O’Brien and William Hubbard filed the appeal Friday on behalf of the Tillicum Action Committee.

The city granted a revised permit to the Washington Military Department, headquartered at Camp Murray, on April 6 so it can connect the new gate at the intersection of Portland Avenue and Boundary Street to public streets.

The military department says the current gate location just south of the intersection of Union Avenue and Berkeley Street is unsafe for citizen-soldiers, employees and visitors. But Tillicum neighbors say moving the gate to the north just moves the problem.

The city had issued the original permit back in October, but the same committee appealed that decision over concerns that hundreds of additional vehicles would cutting through their neighborhood each day .

On March 1, hearing examiner James O’Connor had sent back the permit for further review by city officials. O’Connor wanted officials to further study how moving the gate complies with city transportation policies.

The gate is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in September. However, the military department needs the permit to finish the project, including construction of a new roundabout at the intersection of Portland and Boundary.

The city attached numerous conditions on the permit in an effort to stop motorists from cutting through the neighborhood. They include constructing raised crosswalks on Portland and installing signs to designate Berkeley and other streets away from the neighborhood as the designated route for Camp Murray traffic.

In its revised permit, officials offered the analysis requested by O’Connor and concluded the conditions placed on the permit are consistent with city transportation policies because they would reduce cut-through traffic and improve traffic flow in and out of Tillicum overall.

They also brought a new argument to the table: the city can’t stop the gate move under state law. The city determined Camp Murray is a “essential public facility” under state law. As such, the law bars the city from adopting policies or regulations that prevent it from moving in. City officials concluded the law covers not only the location of an essential public facility but its primary entry point, as well.

O’Brien and Hubbard argued in their appeal the city didn’t address the neighbors’ safety concerns and the gate move doesn’t adhere to Lakewood transportation policies. They also argue Camp Murray doesn’t fit the definition of an essential public facility and rejecting the gate move wouldn’t interfere with its operations.

A hearing hasn’t been scheduled.

Follow me on Twitter @TNTchill

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