Puyallup right to hit pause button on development

The News Tribune The News TribuneJanuary 13, 2014 

Farmland that was rezoned in November was for decades a source of Puyallup’s famous daffodils.


Puyallup voters sent a strong message in November when they elected Heather Shadko and Julie Door to the City Council. The council’s vote last week to temporarily freeze proposed development on the east side shows that message was received. 

In contrast to their election opponents, Shadko and Door campaigned on a go-slow approach to commercial development of some of the city’s few remaining flower fields. They were joined in putting a four-month moratorium on processing land-use or building applications by council members John Palmer and John Hopkins. Three members voted against the moratorium: John Knutsen, Tom Swanson and Steve Vermillion. A final vote on the moratorium will be held Tuesday night.

Clearly development is going to take place on the approximately 70 acres on or around the former Van Lierop Bulb Farm. A section of it was rezoned from one type industrial zone to another on Nov. 12 by what was then a more development-friendly council majority.

The presence of Shadko and Door on the council changes the council dynamic on development, with Hopkins now providing the swing vote. The downtown businessman, who won re-election in November, went the right way on the moratorium vote.

There is no harm in taking a measured approach to such an important and visible tract of land and giving the city a chance to consider design and performance standards. And there’s much potential harm in moving too fast – harm such as permanently filling the acreage with ugly warehouses.

The land affected by the moratorium has been a source of contention in Puyallup for years. Because it includes some of the last bulb fields in the city, its transition from agricultural use is symbolic for many residents. They may recognize that Puyallup is no longer a little farm-oriented town, but they are alarmed by the prospect of it changing too drastically. Turning former daffodil fields into a sea of warehouses would do just that.

The Van Lierops have a right to sell their land and enjoy their retirement. But their fields are part of the city’s character, and what happens to them matters to many residents. Taking a measured approach to their development is the right thing to do.

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