A state hearings board today stayed its ruling that Pierce County acted out of step with state law when it approved comprehensive plan amendments for the proposed Orton Junction development south of Sumner.
The Growth Management Hearings Board ruled last month the county was out of compliance because of the land-use changes. The county requested the stay because its ability to compete for up to $31 million in potential state grant and loan awards could be imperiled by the ruling.
The stay will remain in effect until the appeal is decided, which could take six months to a year, said Pierce County deputy prosecutor Pete Philley.
It’s unclear whether today’s stay will fully restore the county’s ability to compete for state grants and loans.
That’s because legally the county still remains out of compliance on a comprehensive plan amendment that would have cleared the way for the Bethel School District to build a new high school on an 80-acre site it owns in the Graham area.
The hearings board struck down that amendment last month as well. And on Monday, the board denied the school district’s motion to reconsider that ruling. The hearings board did not address the amendment affecting the school district in the stay it issued today.
The school district has 30 days from Monday’s denial to appeal to Superior Court.
“We’re waiting to see if Bethel appeals to see what we’ll do next,” Philley said. If Bethel appeals, the county would file specifically for a stay of the hearings board’s ruling in the Bethel case, Philley said.
Bethel School District spokeswoman Krista Carlson said no decision has been made as to whether to appeal.
“We are still considering our options,” she said.