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Ruling clears path for completion of new Camp Murray gate

Post by Christian Hill / The News Tribune on May 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm with 5 Comments »
May 23, 2012 1:28 pm

Construction of the new gate at Camp Murray cleared a major hurdle Tuesday when a hearing examiner tossed out a challenge filed by residents in neighboring Tillicum who are opposed to the project.

A representative of the neighborhood group, the Tillicum Action Committee, said it would meet this week to consider whether to appeal to Pierce County Superior Court.

“We’re disappointed that the hearing officer didn’t see the same issues that we were concerned with,” Pat O’Brien said.

The examiner, James O’Connor, denied a second appeal of a permit that Lakewood city officials issued so the Washington Military Department can complete the new gate, located at the intersection of Portland Avenue and Boundary Street. A hearing examiner is akin to a judge that presides over contested land-use matters.

During the first appeal, O’Connor had sent the permit back to city officials for additional review and analysis on how its issuance adheres to city transportation policies.

City officials issued an amended permit last month and neighbors filed a second appeal two weeks later.

O’Connor’s released his written decision on Tuesday, the day after a hearing on the appeal of the amended permit.

Residents in Tillicum have long opposed the construction of the new gate because they say it will increase cut-through traffic.

The Washington 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.

The city attached numerous conditions on the permit in an effort to keep 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.

Lakewood City Manager Andrew Neiditz wrote in an e-mail that the intent of these conditions was “to improve the current situation with Tillicum ‘cut-through’ traffic, not to make it worse.”

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

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Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. Wrapper98439 says:

    I’m guessing that the examiner didn’t see the fact that you moved next to a military installation, and now expect quiet. About the same as the people that can throw a softball from their front step and hit the runways complaining about noise. Not much sympathy.

  2. HorseshoeCat says:

    I would make this a HOV entry to Camp Murray. Therefore, only vehicles with two or more persons would be eligible to use the gate. This would encourage carpooling, decrease vehicle traffic, and lessen the problems with the environment. Not likely that this would happen, but trying to fight city hall is an uphill battle.

  3. DavidAnderson says:


    In rendering his decision Lakewood’s Hearing Examiner James O’Conner ruled March 1st – in the first go-round – that the so-called rationale and validity of the Washington Military Department (WMD) gate-relocate were outside his purview, scope and analysis (p.8).

    That’s too bad because had the WMD’s underlying motive been revealed, I wager the general public would’ve been repulsed.

    Since we are under no such restrictions as to what was unexamined by the Examiner, it should be of great interest to the skeptical tax-paying public – in this current economic downtrend especially – that the WMD wants to spend near $5 million to move its gate because they want a walk-able campus.

    “The SDP (Site Development Plan) moves Camp Murray towards a pedestrian-friendly campus with most vehicular traffic relocated to the perimeter of the campus.”

    The community of Tillicum being “the perimeter”.

    That’s page one of the WMD’s 2011 Environmental Assessment (EA). One year ago David Bugher, Lakewood’s Assistant City Manager of Community Development, complained that Camp Murray’s existing gate could be set back further to accommodate vehicle stacking. To which Camp Murray responded this year: “The existing location was determined to not meet project objectives, including plans for making Camp Murray an exclusively administrative and pedestrian friendly campus” (p.216).

    From the very first page of the 2011 EA, to near the very last of the 268 pages, Camp Murray makes unmistakably clear – no option is acceptable that does not meet its overriding, self-serving purpose.

  4. NotAgainLakewood says:

    Wow, imagine that…the military gets exactly what it wants again and at the expense of the citizens it’s sworn to serve. Has anyone thought this through? Why do we allow our military to abuse public roads for their own benefit? They already flood the freeway at both high volume times daily from Lakewood to Lacey – an artery everyone in the area relies upon. On top of that, they claim they cannot properly queue incoming traffic due to the backups on I-5 – a problem they themselves created. The solution for this is simple. Change the shift times on JBLM and Camp Murray to ease inflow. Have they even considered that?

    Don’t be fooled. The relocation has nothing to do with queuing. They just want to spend precious tax dollars to provide a private “pedestrian friendly” campus without sacrificing their own land. To do this, they want to route traffic around “the perimeter” (land they do not own) to the rear of the installation. Unfortunately, many of us live and work in “the perimeter” and we prefer to keep our own “pedestrian friendly” neighborhood – one we’re happy to share (read: not private), but one we will not cede. Perhaps Camp Murray should consider the first three definitions of “pedestrian” as pertaining to walking instead of the fourth, “lacking in vitality, imagination, distinction.” In other words, be neighborly and figure out a new plan.

    BTW, who works for who here???

  5. lulusmith says:

    A soldier from Camp Murray backed in to my car and never reported it to their command. Also the members of city council are pocketing the money for this project for their pesonal gaine. One member actually flew to Hawaii at Tax Payer money and the Mayor of Lakewood has a relative who won the consturction bid for this project.

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