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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