A state hearings board Tuesday stayed its previous ruling that Pierce County had acted out of step with state law when it approved comprehensive plan amendments for the proposed Orton Junction development south of Sumner.
The Growth Management Hearings Board ruled last month the county was out of compliance because of the land-use changes. The county requested the stay because its ability to compete for up to $31 million in potential state grant and loan awards could be imperiled by the ruling.
Orton Farms and the City of Sumner also requested the stay. They also have appealed the ruling in Thurston County Superior Court. The hearings board cited the appeal as one reason for the stay.
The stay will remain in effect until the appeal is decided, which could take six months to a year, said Pierce County deputy prosecutor Pete Philley.
It’s unclear whether Tuesday’s stay will fully restore the county’s ability to compete for state grants and loans.
“It’s up to the various granting agencies to make that determination,” said County Council legislative analyst Hugh Taylor. “We’re hopeful that it does.”
The county is still out of compliance on another comprehensive plan amendment that would have cleared the way for the Bethel School District to build a new high school on an 80-acre site it owns in the Graham area.
The hearings board struck down that amendment last month as well. And on Monday, the board denied the school district’s motion to reconsider that ruling.
Even though the county asked the board to stay all the amendments it ruled against, the hearings board did not address the Bethel schools amendment.
The school district has 30 days from Monday’s denial to appeal to Superior Court.
“We’re waiting to see if Bethel appeals to see what we’ll do next,” Philley said. If Bethel appeals, the county would file specifically for a stay of the hearings board’s ruling in the Bethel case, Philley said.
Bethel School District spokeswoman Krista Carlson said no decision has been made as to whether to appeal.
“We’re currently weighing our options,” she said.