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Growth Board Stays Block of Orton Junction as Appeal Moves Forward

Today, the state Growth Management Hearings Board stayed it's ruling that Pierce County acted outside of state law when it approved Sumner's Orton Junction, which will remain in effect until the appeal is decided.

The Growth Management Hearings Board announced today that it will stay

The stay, which means that the GMHB stands behind it's initial ruling against the development plan, will remain in effect until the Orton Junction appeal process is complete.

, citing that plans for a "complete, compact community" within the development will make it sustainable. The city will also argue in the appeal that the location of Orton Junction makes it eligible for de-designation as an agricultural land resource, as it is adjacent to two freeway interchanges with auto dealerships and WINCO as neighbors.

The appeal process could take 6 months to a year to finalize; it’s unclear at this point whether the stay will restore


Do you think Sumner will be successful in winning the appeal for Orton Junction? Tell us in the comments.

Cindy Beckett August 22, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Pay attention. The devastating drought across much of this nation has seriously jeopardized our food supply. Not since the great drought in the 1930's has it been this bad. In a TV special this week called "Burn Out", the impacts were revealed as to just how bad it will be. Not just the corn crops perished, and we are not the only country who has lost their food crops this year. The entire center of our country is dry and cracked. Even the biggest rivers are drying up. This is not just a one year problem and then it will suddenly get better. We are facing terrible food shortages in the coming year and beyond. There are over 200 million more people living in this country now than there were the last time this happened. We know how badly we suffered from food shortages then. The northwest is one of the few places left in the country that can still grow food. We may now have to grow food for many in our nation. To deliberately destroy this fantastic, irreplaceable, prime food growing soil now is like laughing in the faces of all of the people who will suffer horribly from the loss of our food supply in much of our country. If we learned nothing from the history of the dust bowl era, shame on us! Put this most valuable and irreplaceable farm land back into production! This drought could well become a national emergency. Millions may now be dependant upon us to help feed them. I'm sure you can find someone willing to farm this land if you really tried.
Kathleen August 23, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Cindy, You are well spoken and informed. I am from Omaha, Nebraska and Iowa, originally....My family consists of generations of farmers (1645 to Jamestown Settlement). The "Valley" between east hill and west hill from Seattle to Tacoma has been filled with industrial. Sadly, that dirt is some of the richest farm soil in the nation. Yes, "NATION". It is topsoil brought from glacial till from the hills & mountain above and deposited into the valley. Most of that soil has been culled off and sold as developers put in MID's (I think there are 5 down that valley). About the only areas left at all are the Alderton/McMillian and Orting valley....the industrial "took a curve" and went west at the 410/167 junction into Tacoma and Olympia. My father called me this month from Omaha to report the concerns he had on his farm near Omaha....His fruit trees lost the fruit crop and leaves and he was struggling to keep the trees alive in the 105 degree heat. And he has a sprinkler system. And Uncle in Iowa (age 79) called to report he had not seen such loss of crops in decades. To develop more farm land into retail which we already have an overabundence of in Sumner area...and many as vacant spaces...is just, well...Stupid selfish thinking. You cannot grow food, even on a small hobby farm, on asphalt. You can't feed a nation on asphalt. That valley soil is GOLD and irreplaceable.
Judy McLean August 24, 2012 at 05:39 PM
We'll soon have our wonderful, fertile soil destroyed (covered with cement and asphalt). Welcome to our version of China, where you will hear no birds singing and hungry people; the land will not produce enough to feed us.
Cindy Beckett August 24, 2012 at 06:02 PM
This has been a struggle for many years now, trying to protect our rich food growing soils. They were favored for development mainly for the size of acreage and that they were already treeless and leveled so much cheaper to build on. At one time, this county was 95% sustainable, producing nearly everything we needed. Now, it is less than 5%, with many of the remaining farms idle. We no longer have meat production, dairy, or a lot of food production here. We have no stockpiles of foods in warehouses (we used to). But we still have the last of our farm soils, and I suspect anyone willing to grow food for next season will be able to sell everything they grow. I am hoping that some sort of declaration will come sooner than later that will address this, whether from our local government or our state government. We should be looking at this now, not next year when it will be too late to help feed the stricken areas. I have had several emails this week reporting "climate refugees" who have already moved here. Perhaps some of them would be willing to work these farms if no one here wants to.
Lauren Padgett (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Do you think Sumner's plans for a "complete, compact, connected community" make any difference, in terms of making sure the development is sustainable? Just curious if plans for a farmers market or something that pays homage to the farming roots in that area make a difference for residents or not...
Kathleen August 29, 2012 at 03:49 AM
LAuren: Sumner's plan for a complete connected compact community once existed...it was called the small town of Sumner. The small town was connected by agriculture, schools, churches, a "main street" of businesses, community functions and the "walkability" factor...all of which are dead or dying in Sumner. Putting a mostly commercial development in Orton Junction and calling it a "complete, connected, compact community" does not make it so.
Justin Evans August 29, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I would say that "our version of China" is quite a bit of an overstatement. The ability to create a commercial space for retail sales so entrepreneurs can profit is the definition of a capitalistic society and no where near communist China. I'd rather Sumner be know as the "Sustainable Job Growth Capital Of The World" rather than be known for a vegetable pie.

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