Neighbors opposed to the new gate being constructed at Camp Murray will consider whether to go to court to derail the project after a hearing examiner dismissed their appeal Tuesday.
A representative of the neighborhood group, the Tillicum Action Committee, said it would meet this week to consider whether to appeal to Pierce County Superior Court.
“We’re disappointed that the hearing officer didn’t see the same issues that we were concerned with,” group member Pat O’Brien said.
The examiner, James O’Connor, denied a second appeal of a permit that Lakewood city officials issued so the Washington Military Department can complete the new gate, located at the intersection of Portland Avenue and Boundary Street. A hearing examiner is akin to a judge that presides over contested land-use matters.
During the first appeal, O’Connor had sent the permit back to city officials for additional review and analysis on how its issuance adheres to city transportation policies. City officials issued an amended permit last month, and neighbors filed a second appeal two weeks later. O’Connor was satisfied with the city’s response and dismissed the appeal Tuesday, the day after a two-hour hearing.
Residents in Tillicum have long opposed construction of the gate because they say it will increase cut-through traffic. The Military Department says the current gate location just south of Union Avenue and Berkeley Street is unsafe for citizen-soldiers, employees and visitors.
The city attached numerous conditions on the permit in an effort to keep drivers from cutting through the neighborhood. They include constructing raised crosswalks on Portland and installing signs indicating that Berkeley and other streets away from the neighborhood are the designated route for Camp Murray traffic.
Lakewood City Manager Andrew Neiditz wrote in an email that the intent of those conditions was “to improve the current situation with Tillicum ‘cut-through’ traffic, not to make it worse.”
The gate is scheduled to open in September, but the Military Department needs the right-of-way permit to finish the project, including construction of a roundabout at Portland and Boundary, and connect the new gate to public streets.