While Sumner’s Orton Junction has many opponents, from resource land activists to resistant residents, its largest adversary might just be the neighbor next-door.
It’s official: Bonney Lake doesn’t want Orton Junction, either.
First thing Friday morning, the City of Bonney Lake filed an appeal of the mixed-use development plan with the State Growth Management Hearings Board. While a coalition of farmland protection advocates already filed an appeal with the board last month, Bonney Lake’s appeal is separate and focuses on the development’s commercial plans, not its environmental impact.
“The basis of the appeal is that the City of Sumner currently exceeds its allocation of commercial lands under the WA Growth Management Act, and any expansion would be un-necessary and in violation of state and local land use regulations,” said Don Morrison, city administrator for Bonney Lake. “Similar commercial land expansion requests from the cities of Orting, Puyallup, Bonney Lake, and others have been turned down by Pierce County on the basis that there was already ample commercial lands available for development. Yet the County Council made an indefensible exception for the City of Sumner.”
Morrison would not comment on Bonney Lake’s specific issues with the commercial aspects of Sumner’s plan, but he emphasized the city’s unhappiness with the way it was handled at the county level. He asserted that Bonney Lake is eager to continue a good working relationship with Sumner and that this isn’t a reflection of a divide between the two cities.
“Our biggest issue is not an issue with Sumner; it is an issue with the County process. Over the past two application cycles, several cities have had their UGA commercial land expansion requests denied on the basis that there was already an overabundance of commercial lands available for development. If that is true, then there should not have been an exception made for Sumner,” said Morrison. “What is good for the gander should be good for the goose – so to speak.”
In the appeal, Bonney Lake questions whether Orton Junction encourages “urban sprawl and leapfrog development” by failing to direct growth toward developed urban areas. It also asks whether Orton Junction will properly be sustained by public facilities and whether there is equal distribution of economic opportunities in the project. (The full document is attached to this article.)
In Sumner, city officials are ready to stand behind their project in the appeals process.
“I’m not surprised they are going through with the appeal. They did have some concerns about our commercial development. I guess I was hopeful they wouldn’t, but I’m not surprised,” said Diane Supler, Sumner’s city administrator. “I want both cities to find a way to work together long-term. We’re neighbors, share resources and live in East Pierce County together, it’s important that we continue to build our relationship. If we have differences, we need to respect those. We need one another.”