Months of passionate debate and countless hours of planning have led to this day – Sumner will get a significant border expansion, a YMCA and a new mixed-use retail center.
The Pierce County Council unanimously approved the Orton Junction project at their Oct. 25 meeting after two rounds of public testimony. Now, local developer Investco can pave over agricultural resource lands and break ground on the Sumner YMCA, the crux of the proposed retail center.
Councilmember Tim Farrell saw the Orton Farms as a “sacrifice” to save future farmland from development in the Puyallup Valley. Outlined in the proposal are plans to permanently protect 500 acres of resource land. For every acre developed, four will be permanently protected within Pierce County.
Read more about how Sumner, Investco and the Cascade Land Conservancy plan to protect agricultural lands and build a "compact, connected" Orton community .
“[Orton Junction] is like putting up a green wall to prevent Sumner from going any further south and ruining the last piece of the Orton Valley,” said Ferrell.
In her official statement, Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy echoed the promise of protected farmland and future jobs in the area.
“I had concerns about the impact of the original Orton Junction proposal, and that’s why I asked Ryan Mello and the Cascade Land Conservancy to step in and try to negotiate a balanced approach,” said McCarthy. “This agreement represents a model solution that provides for services and jobs in the Sumner area while also permanently protecting hundreds of acres of farmland and creating a ‘green wall’ to curb further growth in the valley.”
Members of the community spoke passionately on the need to preserve the farmland for future generations and pointed to the rate of disappearing agricultural land in Pierce County. The regional YMCA is far from the ideal of a community center, they said, and isn't affordable for everyone in a difficult economy.
Proposed for construction at the bottom of the hill off State Route 410, Orton Junction is a planned mix of commercial and residential uses encompassing 397 dwellings, shopping and recreational opportunities, including a YMCA and MultiCare clinic.
The development is earmarked for the area generally south of SR410 and is bordered on the east by Elhi Hill, the west by Orting Hwy and 75th Street and Riverside Drive to the south. Construction of the YMCA project will employ 250-300 people.