During , a motion passed that will require the city to provide the council with any admission Mayor Dave Enslow has made regarding any financial investment he has in the Orton Junction project.
“I do own a farm and have for many years, but it’s not in Orton Junction. They may buy the development rights for my farm. There are no options on the table, but they may one day,” said Enslow. “There is nothing hidden about this. My farm is not on the Orton Junction property and it’s quite a ways away.”
The council will receive the information at Monday’s upcoming study session.
Patch asked Sumner City Attorney Brett Vinson what kind of information would be provided, and he said that the city clerk would search past city council minutes and audio recordings for any comments Enslow has made in reference to his property and Orton Junction.
Councilmember Randy Hynek introduced the motion after quoting a state law, which says any municipal officer with voting power must notify and disclose any personal financial interest in a city development project to the governing body and municipality. It passed 5-1, with Cindi Hoschetter voting “no.”
Enslow did not vote on Orton Junction, but he has been a strong vocal advocate for the project and the development of the Sumner YMCA. As mayor, he only has the opportunity to vote when he needs to break a tie. Enslow did not recuse himself from discussion or the voting process in regards to Orton Junction.
Enslow owns more than 70 acres of property south of the potential Orton Junction development, where he grows corn and other crops. It is not included in the 182 acres of rural and agricultural land proposed for the project, but has been identified as land that meets the “conservation easement” requirements outlined in the Seven Principals Agreement.
Under a conservation easement sale, the property owner would sell all future rights to develop his or her land and it would be protected as farmland, forever. Orton Junction would buy these rights for more development opportunities – the Seven Principals Agreement called for four acres of preserved land for every acre developed.
Enslow’s land is mentioned in the Seven Principals Agreement as part of the 500 acres of farmland eligible for land conservation easements. Enslow told the Tacoma News Tribune in an Oct. 2011 interview that he did not help draft the Seven Principals Agreement or seek to have his land identified in it, but officials say it would be a good choice because it would help create a “green wall” outside the development project.
The land was identified as usable at the county level and not identified by the city.
The Growth Management Hearing Board (GMHB) that Orton Junction didn’t meet the state standards for development, citing concerns over the loss of agricultural resources. The city of Sumner has said it will appeal the GMHB decision to move the plan forward.
Click 'Keep Me Posted' for updates to the story. We will follow up with a detail of the documents released next week.