Puyallup City Council abruptly halts final action on proposal to freeze development

Staff writerJanuary 14, 2014 

The Puyallup City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to postpone a proposal that would freeze development on the east side of the city.

The action abruptly halts an effort to impose a four-month moratorium on “processing of any and all land-use or building applications or plans” in mixed-use, commercial and industrial zones near East Pioneer Avenue and Shaw Road. That proposal would have affected about 70 acres.

The change of course comes after the City Council approved a first reading of the moratorium by a split vote last week. 

The moratorium was proposed by Councilman John Palmer and fellow council member Julie Door. It was intended to pause development in the area to give the city time to consider design and performance standards and help ensure high-quality development.

Land that was once part of the Van Lierop Bulb Farm, which was the subject of a controversial rezone Nov. 12, is located within the proposed area.

Retired farmer Neil Van Lierop and representatives from Schnitzer West, the developer that plans to purchase and develop his property, say they were blindsided by the proposal. They say halting plans is not the proper way to ensure the highest quality development. 

City spokeswoman Melanie Harding said the council went into executive session following public testimony Tuesday night to discuss potential litigation items, and voted shortly thereafter to “indefinitely” postpone final action on the moratorium.

Palmer said the retreat does not mean the city is abandoning the proposal. He said it is merely inviting the developers and property owners, who saw the moratorium as an “antagonistic” approach, into the discussion.

“We have not backed off on our goals in terms of having a good quality project,” Palmer said of the new direction. “We’re just getting some time to see if we can work directly with Schnitzer West to achieve those goals in a direct manner.”

Palmer said the vote came with the understanding that the council could pick up the moratorium proposal where it left off and that the city will be more intimately involved in the “blueprint” of development plans in the east Shaw Road area. It is unknown what the city’s involvement might look like.

“The mechanics of this are a little bit fuzzy,” Palmer said.

Kari Plog: 253-597-8682
Follow Kari on Twitter: @KariPlog

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