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[UPDATED] Sumner to File Orton Junction Appeal

The Sumner City Council voted in executive session after the Aug. 6 meeting to move forward with the appeal process for Orton Junction.

After an executive session, the Sumner City Council voted last night to move forward with an appeal of the Growth Management Hearing Board (GMHB) decision to deny approval of the Orton Junction project.

The council voted 5-1 to green light the appeal, with councilmember Nancy Dumas voting no.

"We think that the GMHB had some areas that were just clearly wrong and some areas that could be solved by working together," said Dave Enslow, mayor of Sumner. "We think Orton Junction is a huge win for the community, combining a community center, farmers market, shopping area, retail and senior housing in a place that would look like Kent Station, made possible through private money and donations. It means a whole lot of new jobs and a YMCA."

City councilman Steve Allsop agrees.

"Orton Junction would bring a fabulous resource to Sumner in the form of the YMCA plus enhanced health care with MultiCare. It would create scores of jobs as well as expand Sumner's revenue base, and would result in preserving farmland now and forever that is currently at risk of development," said Allsop.

Dumas believes the Orton Junction project has lost it's original vision and that's why she voted no.

"The idea for Orton Junction originally came from the desire to create a place for our children to play, safely. Somehow it got morphed from a great idea into an 182-arce commercial development," said Dumas. "We have had so many 'no's' on this project... maybe it's time to take a step back and admit that what we've been doing hasn't been working. We were voted 'no' on this development because we have empty space in town already to do what we want to do."

City attorney Brett Vinson said the decision to appeal is based on the fact that the GMHB, , is supposed to give guidance on local growth – not directives or mandates.

The city also hopes to clarify de-designation criteria for agricultural land.

“The [GMHB] said they are not guidance, they are directives,” said Vinson regarding the GMHB decision. “We need clear direction.”

The city also plans to argue that because two amendments went before the county council – the UGA reduction on East Hill and the Orton Junction development – it weakened the plan, which should be looked at as a whole. The reason the two were seperated was primarily to facilitiate public comment on the two seperate issues, Vinson said.

While the GMHB denied the Orton Junction project, it approved the removal of East Hill from the city’s UGA.

“That’s another reason to appeal – to clarify that the reduction was a component of the application for growth and not independent and separate,” said Vinson. “If growth area [in Orton Junction] were to be denied, [East Hill] should remain in the city’s UGA so we can continue to properly plan for the future.”

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Click 'Keep Me Posted' for updates to this story.

Kathleen August 07, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Fine, let East Hill remain in Sumner's UGA...the property owners in that area ASKED repeatedly to stay in the UGA. End this madness and the complete and utter waste of taxpayer dollars. Put an end to the Orton Junction commercial developement If it were allowed it would penalize the commercial owners in Sumner who are already strugglling. OJ is nothing but a boondoggle.
Craig Roberts August 08, 2012 at 02:50 AM
I have no issue with a YMCA coming to town. The retail shops,restaurants all sound great. My question is what about the Corliss property East of Fred Meyer that has been sitting there for some time? It would be a wonderful location for a YMCA. Families could walk there, kids could ride their bikes. Or the property where the old QFC was. These are eyesores in the community. To me it makes more sense to bring the project closer to town, make use of these properties and save the farming land.
amy August 08, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Please save the farmland!
Mike August 08, 2012 at 05:58 AM
I've been following this case closely, and even if Sumner does challenge the specific items mentioned in this article, the decision from the Growth Management Board was a very broad 'no' to the entire project. If they are successful in their appeals on these two items, there are still many other items that seem 'unresolvable' based on the GMHB ruling. Sumner might be able to get their East Hill UGA area back, but this has more to do with the county's decision than the GMHB. Truthfully, Orton Junction was never a good deal for anyone. Reading through the Board's decision shows how short sighted the city's plan was considering the vast areas of land within the city currently that are ready to be developed for commercial use. There is plenty of room for a YMCA or anything else that was supposed to go in OJ within the current city limits. Now the city will be wasting taxpayer's money by appealing this ruling that they aren't going to win because they aren't even challenging significant portions that rule out development of the OJ properties. Councilman Dumas has it pegged.
Kathleen August 08, 2012 at 09:26 AM
Mike, This was never about a YMCA coming to Sumner, this was all about Corliss developing land and political cronyism. The Mayor would benefit by selling nhis far's development rights in the area. The fact is that an enormous amount of taxpayer dollars and City staff time has gone to this development push. The Council members who voted continiuously for this project (at a cost of ignoring the other real and pressing needs of the community) need to be removed from office for a complete lack of fiduciary duty to the public..

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