The City of Pacific might not exist at the end of the month and Sumner, it’s bordering city, is taking steps to ensure protection for shared road projects and common goals on the Pierce County side of the town.
First and foremost, Sumner wants to make one thing clear—the city doesn’t want to see Pacific disincorporate. However, if that happens, Sumner has passed a resolution stating its desire to annex the finger of Pacific along the Pierce County line.
“The situation in Pacific has started to accelerate. Many people—including myself—thought disincorporation couldn’t happen,” said Mayor Dave Enslow during a special council meeting on the afternoon of Dec. 3. “It’s a 103 year-old town that none of us expected to go away, but it very well could, depending on what the city decides to do.”
The Sumner City Council called a special meeting on Dec. 3 to respond to an email sent to Enslow from Pacific Council President Leanne Guier, asking the city what options Sumner was willing to explore if Pacific disbands.
It makes sense to incorporate the Pierce County portion of Pacific into Sumner, said city attorney Brett Vinson during a presentation of the issue to council. The east side of Pacific has similar industrial and commercial zoning to Sumner’s north end and there are not many residents in that area to serve. The two cities also share a common road project at 136th Ave. E. and Valentine Ave. SE, which could be jeopardized if another municipality annexes the area.
Vinson stressed that this isn’t a excuse for Sumner to grow—only an option to support the neighboring community.
“This is not a land grab by any sense of the word—we are merely stating that we’d have an interest in that area, should it be faced with disincorporation,” said Vinson. “This is an easy and quick method of annexation that places Sumner in the queue.”
Under state law, an annexation like this requires resolutions by both cities. Thus, Sumner’s resolution is in place should Pacific choose to respond. If Pacific is able to continue as a city and does not need to respond, then Sumner’s resolution does nothing.
The City of Auburn has also expressed an interest in annexing Pacific into its borders. However, if Pacific disincorporates and neither Sumner nor Auburn absolve it, the land will revert to unincorporated Pierce and King Counties. The decision of whether Auburn or Sumner would take the land in question after disincorporation would be made by the state's Boundary Review Board.
“It would be harder to annex that land after it turns into unincorporated Pierce County,” said Vinson.
East Pierce Fire and Rescue chief Jerry Thorson told the council that when land is annexed into a city, the fire district borders grow to accommodate the change. EPFR can accommodate the proposed addition to Sumner, but not if it crosses the King County border—the agency would not be able to meet the response time or collect the same EMS levy tax just approved by Pierce County residents this August.
“I fully support moving into the Pierce County side of Pacific if it dissolves… we can cover that area with a minimal affect on our response time and the rest of the fire district,” said Thorson. “However, if you cross the King County line, it would have a hugely negative impact on our district.”
Pacific’s disincorporation vote is scheduled for February, but the city could remove it before the end of the month. Insurance coverage for Pacific will expire on Jan. 1, 2013.
Should Sumner annex the Pierce County portion of Pacific? Tell us in the comments.