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State growth board upholds Orton Junction appeal

Post by Sara Schilling / The News Tribune on July 10, 2012 at 1:35 pm with 3 Comments »
July 10, 2012 2:14 pm

The state Growth Management Hearings Board has ruled in favor of the farmland advocates who appealed the Pierce County Council’s controversial Orton Junction land-use decision.

That means the planned mixed-use development in the Orton Junction area south of Sumner, which is slated to include a YMCA, is stalled for the time being.

Sumner officials say they plan to appeal.

“The City of Sumner believes the board has made a mistake in failing to recognize that Orton Junction is well within the parameters of what is permitted by the (state) Growth Management Act and, in fact, would do more to protect agriculture in Pierce County than the existing zoning has or can do,” the city said in a news release.

The coalition of farmland groups, led by the Seattle-based Futurewise, said the board made the right call.

“Over the last ten years, Pierce County has lost more agricultural land than any other county in Western Washington. Today’s ruling will help to turn the tide,” said Tim Trohimovich, director of planning and law, in a news release.

The growth board issued its decision Monday, but it wasn’t made public until today.


Leave a comment Comments → 3
  1. summit98446 says:

    Here’s the other side of the story, the TNT neglects to mention:

    Orton Junction denied by the Growth Management Hearings Board!
    For immediate release

    July 10, 2012
    Contact: Marian Berejikian, Friends of Pierce County 253-851 9524
    Hilary Franz, Futurewise 206-343-0681 Ext. 116

    State board rules that County must protect prime farmland from encroaching development

    Tacoma, WA – The Growth Management Hearings Board, an administrative appeals body with primary jurisdiction over legal issues relating to how and where communities grow, ruled that the Pierce County Council’s decision last October to convert 182 acres of farmland violated state law.

    “The berry and vegetable harvests are underway in the Puyallup Valley” said Amy Moreno-Sills, a Puyallup Valley farmer. “Our local farmers need more prime farmland to grow fresh, healthy food for families in Pierce and King Counties. I am glad that the Board recognized there were other, better places for cities to expand.”

    “Over the last ten years, Pierce County has lost more agricultural land than any other county in Western Washington” said Tim Trohimovich, Director of Planning and Law at Futurewise. “Today’s ruling will help to turn the tide.”

    In October, over public opposition, the Pierce County Council unanimously approved expansion of the City of Sumner’s UGA into farmland between the city boundary south of Highway 410 and the Puyallup River. The County Planning Commission had voted down this application. Futurewise, American Farmland Trust, Friends of Pierce County, Tahoma Audubon Society, and PCC Farmland Trust filed an appeal with the Growth Management Hearings Board to overturn this decision to allow Sumner to expand their urban growth area onto 182 acres of prime farmland. The legal challenge was supported thru an amicus brief from the Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network, Cascade Harvest Coalition, Organically Growth Company, Tilth Producers, Terra Organics, Tahoma Farms, Let Us Farm, Washington State Farmers Market Association, and Charlie’s Produce.

    “We’re pleased that the state affirmed the requirement to protect prime farmland from unnecessary, poorly-planned development. Once we lose this land, we can’t get it back,” said Marian Berejikian, Friends of Pierce County Executive Director. “We look forward to working with the County Council to make sure our future growth doesn’t come at the expense of our remaining farmland.”

    “The Growth Management Hearings Board decision provides assurance to Pierce County farmers that they have a future in Pierce County,” said Rebecca Sadinsky, the Executive Director of PCC Farmland Trust. “For the PCC Farmland Trust, this decision is encouragement to continue to focus our farmland conservation work in Puyallup River Valley.”

  2. LittleBantyRooster says:

    Mayor Enslow needs to give up his land for free to the project and not profit personally from it. There is already a plan in place to save farming land in Pierce County (because of this project). Greed will get him no where. This area needs the YMCA. Maybe if he threw a little of his amassed fortune from all the properties he owns in Sumner, the Pierce County Council may be a little more amenable.

  3. S_Emerson says:

    Patch has been covering this as a series, and just published their newest article–and a poll asking if you agree with the GMHB decision.


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