County Council Unanimously Approves Orton Junction Project

Sumner now has 182 acres of farmland ready for development, thanks to the Pierce County Council.

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.

Bernie Hardtke October 27, 2011 at 11:06 PM
I agree with Carl Jones, The "Friends of Pierce County" ie Kelda, Katherine ie Kathleen, and the other "Progressive Thinkers" need to come up with funding to buy up this farmland that people like the Knutson family who have farmed this land since before any of you even heard of Sumner. Have deemed it not profitable to farm, Many farm familes have children that have worked on farms there whole childhood and do not want to continue into adulthood. My family came to the Puyallup Valley in 1891 and farmed the land from 128th Street and Orting Hwy to what is now the Red Barn Christmas Tree Farm to the Puyallup River, from 1891 until around 1975. When members of my family started selling off our farms to others who would attempt to make a living farming. My Grandfather had 10 children and only 1 wanted to continue farming, He couldn't support his family from farming in the 50's and had to find employment outside the farm. and his children had no interest in farming so he had to sell to retire.
LifeisGood October 28, 2011 at 02:13 AM
Good Point Jan. As someone who lives in downtown, I can see opposition coming from those living in town who would not want the added traffic, noise, etc. coming to the quaint downtown core. There will never be a win win for everyone, it is the reality world we live in. I am also impressed by the agreement that was made between the city, Investco and the Cascade Land Conservatory. I am very excited that this amendment passed and look forward to staying in Sumner for more my family's shopping and recreational needs.
Kelda Miller October 28, 2011 at 03:50 AM
I'm not excited about this project. If it was a community center in town I would be.
Kelda Miller October 28, 2011 at 04:00 AM
Did you see my comment about not enough activists? The face of farming is changing and people don't want/can't afford big swaths of land to do monoculture. The Tahoma Farms site was a bigger farm that a few families were able to purchase with help from a landtrust, split into smaller farms, and those farms now run diverse veggies for local consumption, not monoculture for far away markets. That project had Pierce Conservation District (ie staff) working on, that's why it's so difficult to think of buying up so-called Orton Farms. It's an uphill battle. I have absolutely no doubt there are a lot of people who want to grow food. Right after the last hearing I went to an event in Olympia with hundreds of young farmers, and I'm a member of Tilth Producers, Seattle Tilth, etc. That's for organic diverse farming. I grow food and honestly, people offer me land for free because I do so. I would be interested in a team effort to buy Orton Farm, but prefer that we just stick to the comprehensive plan. Because then it will be the next farm and the next. The CLC plan does protect farmland, but the County did it because it's the only way of seeing a TDR plan being implemented in Sumner, because we're so behind the times. I find our 'growth equals progress' stance really inappropriate
Kelda Miller October 28, 2011 at 04:01 AM
I would hope people wouldn't dislike more activity in downtown, but perhaps you're correct for people who live in Sumner. I joined a Y when I could walk across the street to one and they did a program for homeless youth that I helped with. I have no reason to ever join this Y. I'd rather put time into my community.
Kathleen October 28, 2011 at 07:22 AM
Bernie....My family came to the Jamestown Settlement, Virginia in 1640. One branch came to the Puyallup/Kent Valley in the late 1800's. I farmed/raised and breed horses on the side near the 214th-HWY 410 area...I was "Route 1". I sold (1990) when the development around us became so heavy we were a farm in a sea of commercial development. When I had a cow break a fence line and run into 60 mile per hour traffic, I knew we could not hold on. Our land designation had been changed by Pierce County to allow development just like Orton Junction. Sumner at that time did NOT want development and pushed it into MY area. I had the farm paid for free and clear. We had a well 175 deep into an aquifer..pure water. We had acres of pasture for the animals, and acres of second growth timber...the flat land that was tilled was pure gold...I have never touched soil so perfect to grow in since.
Kathleen October 28, 2011 at 07:23 AM
The view of Mount Rainier was breathtaking...we sacrificed to live there....we worked hard and shopping was far away and infrequent...I had to drive my kids to see their friends. When the commercial development came, all the old neighbors could think of was selling for top dollar, not the future of farming. Bernie here is the truth....farming and commercial development do not mix. Orton Junction will eventually destroy the remaining land...then where will farming be? On top of Rainier? the only land developers/speculators such as Corliss haven't touched. The fact is I miss that farm dearly and would give anything to have it still, without the development, as it once was...My children will never afford such a place and my grandchildren will never know the wonderful, special life we had there, nor ever afford it....it's development and commercial enterprise that has killed farming. I only hope there is no crisis to make us understand too late how much we need farms. It's just like California..We paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
Kathleen October 28, 2011 at 07:27 AM
Ryan Mello told me this agreement was to prevent more development...he said and I quote"The Sumner Plan is just a bad idea"
Kathleen October 28, 2011 at 07:38 AM
I won't be shopping at the retail spaces because I shop online a lot and have items delivered...my last 4 purchases were online this month..a book from Amazon, Children's clothes from PB Kids, a stove from Sears and a LARGE purchase of kitchen cabinets...I never walked through a retail door...the wave of the future not more retail stores fronts. Shopping the "Old way" is just too boring, time consumng and tedious,.,...HATE trying to find a parking space. Life is about living..not shopping.
Kelda Miller October 28, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Kathleen, I agree and disagree with you, and mostly would just love to meet you sometime and talk in person. If you're ever in Sumner on a weekday give me a call 370-9946 and I'll have you over for tea. ;) (I work on most weekends out of town)
Rebecca Giles October 28, 2011 at 04:50 PM
People, I whole heartedly believe in these forums and the ability to speak one's mind. The fact is, Orton Junction, with a much needed YMCA will be under construction before we know it. You all can stew and fret and raise your blood pressure to unhealthy heights, but what is done is done. Let's just enjoy the fact that there is an alternative place for recreational activities coming our way!
Kathy Hayden October 28, 2011 at 05:03 PM
And Amazon.com has a HUGE warehouse in the Sumner industrial area (yes, it used to be farmland), so not buying on retail that covers up farmland makes no sense. I say, if preserving 4 acres of farmland permanently for every 1 acre of farmland developed is not enough for you "activists", it is not about the farmland.
Bernie Hardtke October 28, 2011 at 05:22 PM
Here Here Kathy, I think you hit the nail on the head,
Kathleen October 28, 2011 at 05:40 PM
Kathy, it IS about the farmland and I have had the experience of owning a farm both before and after "development". Four acres is nothing in farming. when 400,000 acres is lost of farming, 400 acres saved does nothing to preserve farming. Having my farm surrounded by develpment meant a huge burden to me. just a few to mention in short space: my fences taken down by people when I had expensive Tennesse Walkers then roaming off, people cutting/stealing my cedars, people fulling my back well with concrete, people dumping trash and appliances on my land, people stealing whole sections of produce I had raised to sell.....none of these problems did I have before the development surrounded us. Commercial and farming do not mix well next to each other...and condescending attitudes to differing opinions shows arrogance and narrow mindedness.
Kathleen October 28, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Rebecca...First Sumner will gave to figure out how they will come up with 2.5 million they pledged to build the Y and how they will buy development rights for 400 or more acres...I wonder how much the Sumner taxpayers will have to come up with...Sumner officials have not been forthcoming on the cost.
Kathleen October 28, 2011 at 05:48 PM
Kathy, I never said I don't shop retail because it covers up farmland...I said I shop online because it is more convenient and the trend for the future
Kandi Holgren October 28, 2011 at 05:53 PM
A great alternative - for those who can afford it.
DAP Norris October 28, 2011 at 06:29 PM
When McDonald’s and Fred Meyer’s first came to town, I vowed I would never support those business’ as I felt it took away the charm of downtown Sumner. Well, that mindset didn’t last long! Before long I, found myself in the check-out lines while still continuing to shop and support Main St stores. Supporting local business fuels our infrastructure, it keeps the city vibrant. I know this because we have owed a “small” business in the Valley. It opened its doors in 1890. So while those that oppose the YMCA and Orton Junction “vow” to not step through those doors remember this: you too, may eventually find yourself partaking in the many wonderful services they provide. And, I am sure you understand that fees and memberships are provided on a sliding-scale, based on your income. On another note, I agree with Jan Sanford and LifeIsGood. The City, Investco and the Cascade Land Conservatory, in good faith spent countless hours negotiating an agreement that benefitted all sides. It was truly an accomplishment and a model for the future. I know for some of those that do oppose, it is about farmland and you are passionate. I hope you will find a way to purchase and utilize the new designated farmland and put it to good use.
LifeisGood October 28, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Well said, Deb. As someone who lives downtown, I am excited about the additional shopping opportunities that are coming our way at Orton Junction. My family and I walk/shop in our charming downtown for unique gift & home items, eyeglasses, antiques, a good meal, and most importantly, for the small town experience. In a perfect world, everything we need would be located in the downtown core. That being said, I doubt it would have the same quaint, small town feel if that were the case. I will shop at Orton Junction for the convenience, and continue to shop my favorite downtown businesses for the experience! I truly believe that bringing more people to Sumner (by way of Orton Junction or otherwise) will be good for downtown businesses as well.
Karen October 30, 2011 at 04:00 AM
Change is inevitable and if we can direct the storm (so to speak) for the good, then I say we have done our job. Thank you to everyone who has invested so much time and energy to make sure that the decisions made will benefit the majority and our future. A sincere thanks to all of you, because honestly I can't see a negative about having all the awesome benefits of the Y in our community..health, family, community..values that stand a life time and beyond.
Kathleen October 30, 2011 at 06:57 AM
Karen, Part 1 We most certainly have not done our job when Mike Corliss's Investco;s plans for a major regional development become the City of Sumner's priority when their constituents are in touch economic times. The City cannot pay to support the Daffodil parade (after Daffodils 80 some years of committment to Sumner), the City cannot pay to clean retention ponds, the City cannot pay to pave roads, etc...But the City can pledge 2.5 million to a private concern. The YMCA is a private corporation. As such it is NOT a community trust. When events, such as the recent firing of the YMCA Puyallup Youth Director for sexual misconduct happens, Sumnerites will have no vote nor representation.
Kathleen October 30, 2011 at 06:58 AM
Part 2''' Our community has a place for children and teens...Our schools.The City of Sumner has repeatedly rejected working with the Sumner School District on any plans. Then Corliss's development will destroy farmland. It will bring more retail space when retail is running as high as 40% vacant...there may be buildings but they will be empty. There is so much very wrong with this whole plan but the worst is that there ARE NO FUNDS to pay for it. The 2.5 million and the other costs for the development will mean higher taxes...MORE MONEY from Sumner citizens when they are hurting now. Go ask the Sumner Food Bank how they are doing these days. ..Then there is that pesky point that MAyor Enslow has land in the development plan. Shame Shame on the City of Sumner for putting greed ahead of the real, current and emergent needs that the citizens have today. I'm in no mood to make Mike Corliss richer while the School District can't afford a cover for their pool.
Kelda Miller October 30, 2011 at 03:57 PM
Right, it's about the Growth Management Act. Law. So farmland doesn't have to be fought for piece after piece, but there's just an agreed-upon plan that we're following
Kelda Miller October 30, 2011 at 04:03 PM
Honestly, it's not done. This amendment breaks the law in two places and will be appealed.1) Sumner didn't demonstrate bursting-at-the-seams need to incorporate outside city limits 2) the de-designation of ARL land was also unwarranted. It's just the law. Futurwise has 60 days to sue, and Tim did say that a lawsuit would be coming in his final message to the County.
Kelda Miller October 30, 2011 at 04:07 PM
For me, Sumner is already too spread out (I walk). I was tickled when Jubilee opened because now there's an alternative to food-purchasing in downtown. If the library and post office and Sumner Postal were all in downtown, it would save me about half my time doing errands. And I'd be inclined to use that time lingering downtown and spending more money. It's too bad that that Really Good Design isn't happening. It's nice that we get a downtown 'experience' but what we really need for a vibrant downtown is people and money buzzing around the place. It's too bad that people think businesses mean traffic and noise (both the traffic and noise are from car traffic, just an old paradigm.)
Rebecca Giles October 30, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Sara, if you are enjoying the Y today it is because of one of our Sumner School District's board members that is up for re-election: Jeff DeMarre. His background is in engineering and spent many hours (along with Rick Hendricks) to make sure the pool stayed open to the public! Please, cast your vote for Jeff DeMarre and ask all your friends too. You probably received a letter in a mail that said something about C.A.R.E.S. Did you wonder who that might have come from? It is a violation of the PDC not to let the public know who paid for that trash. These people are trying to unseat Jeff DeMarre. Such a shame, for a man who has been a leader in our community for its betterment. Please vote: JEFF DEMARRE! Thank you.
Rebecca Giles October 30, 2011 at 06:00 PM
Let me restate that to: if you are enjoying the Sumner School District's Pool today!
Rebecca Giles October 30, 2011 at 06:13 PM
At Kathleen, when you mention the Sumner Schools for Recreation. Yes, they are the fiduciary agent to the City of Sumner/City of Bonney Lake and the Sumner School District's outstanding Recreation Department that has been in place for 21 years! Lot's of Recreation programming at an affordable cost. How quickly people forget. The City of Sumner pays, $23,500, the City of Bonney Lake pays $33,500 and the SSD pays $25,000, plus thousands in indirect costs (ie. use of Human Resources Services, Business Services and facilities). The budget is $900,140.00 for this fiscal year. Subtract, $82,500 from that and find out how hard the staff works to keep those fees for your recreational services as low as they are. In 1991, the allotment was $42,000. Makes me laugh when I think that in 20+ years this allotment given by the communites that the Cities support has not even doubled, yet minimum wage has gone up at least 10 times! Ask the last 2.5 generations of wonderful families in both of our communities and I can bet they have been a part of the Recreation Department!
Diana Ekstrom December 07, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Everyone needs to come together and understand this is not the right direction to go. I am running an aging great pool in Sumner as a non profit organization that the citizens are using now with an affordable rate. With no assistance from the cities of Sumner and Bonney Lake even after asking for a one-time start-up donation of a very small amount. They say no and then turn around and give a special interest 2.5 Million dollars??. WHY do we need this YMCA ??? Support what we have in these hard times! This YMCA is not going to help our community, it is not for everyone and the BIG question is.....and ask???? can our high schools use this pool...this warm pool that they a claiming to build? I coached at Emerald Ridge High School for two years....right next to the Mel Korum pool .....but the students were bused to the Puyallup High school. Why?? well the YMCA had no room from them. I plan to be more vocal in the weeks to come, we need to step back and look at what is in the best interest for our citizens....and not what is in the best interests of someone's pocket book.
Cindy Beckett April 27, 2012 at 07:42 PM
"Sumner now has 182 acres of farmland ready for development, thanks to the Pierce County Council" But what they are not straight up telling you who think this is just peachy is, the replacement farmland is in pieces, not a workable farm. A litle here, a little there, all "protected" Ridiculous and ignorant! Where, oh where do you honestly think we will get our fresh food from if everyone still thinks money and personal gain is more important than feeding the people in this county? It seems the "pro" comments are coming from people who can currently afford to pay 5X more for their food - but could care less about those who are borderline starving right now in our county and will stay that way as long as we keep paving the farmland for personal profit and importing questionable food supplies from other countries. What a great way to recover our local economy!!!!! There is no way to justify a handful of jobs over feeding many hungry children. And by the way, those hungry children can't afford to go to a Y. Shame on the lot of you and especially our local "governments" who pretend that the people come first at election time.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something