Split vote brings Puyallup a step closer to new development rules

City Council votes 4-3 to extend existing standards to more parcels near East Pioneer, Shaw Road

Staff writerMay 20, 2014 

Puyallup is a step closer to stricter development rules on a swath of land on the eastern edge of the city.

The City Council voted 4-3 to send the new standards to a final vote at a May 28 special meeting, where passage is expected.

Approval would extend existing rules for building height, open space, parking and other design components to more parcels near East Pioneer Avenue and Shaw Road.

Council members John Palmer, Heather Shadko, John Hopkins and Julie Door favored the proposal, while Mayor John Knutsen and council members Steve Vermillion and Tom Swanson opposed it. The three opponents said they are unable to attend next week's meeting.

Tuesday's vote went against a planning commission recommendation and came about two weeks before a development moratorium, which covers 70 acres in the same location, is set to expire.

A split council vote on Jan. 28 prompted the moratorium on processing any land-use or building plans in the area. Palmer, Shadko, Hopkins and Door supported the pause on projects or plans to give the city time to plan for quality development in an area that many residents hail as a "gateway to the city."

The existing overlay, located just south of the proposed expansion area, supplements development standards in business and commercialzones. The proposal to expand the boundary focuses on a manufacturing zone that includes the former Van Lierop Bulb Farm. The property - owned by retired farmer Neil Van Lierop and pegged for industrial development by Schnitzer West - has been at the center of a long and divisive land-use debate.

Puyallup's planning commission voted in April not to expand the boundaries of the overlay, though two planning members - Leon Leonard and Nancy Johnson - both favored additional development standards for the Van Lierop property.

Many property owners have expressed frustration with the development moratorium and the proposed rule changes.

Representatives from Schnitzer West have said they were forced into submitting a less desirable development plan to avoid losing rights to the Van Lierop property.

An angry Van Lierop testified Tuesday. "The council majority is screwing with our lives," he said.

But opponents of warehouse development have said the city needs to ensure development in the area is thoughtful and responsible. Resident Bud Metzger said supporters of the changes are thinking of the future.

"We're trying to think about the heritage of our city," he said.

Council members on both sides of the issue stressed that Schnitzer's project will likely be unaffected by the changes because of the complete application.

Swanson said nobody wants warehouses in east Puyallup. But land outside the city limits is already zoned for them and using heavy-handed tactics to curb development is counterproductive, pushing landowners away from joining the city, he said.

"If we want to annex the rest of this area into the city we need to hit the reset button," he said.

Palmer disagreed, arguing the proposal isn't unreasonable.

"These are fairly reasonable measures to minimize the impacts of a warehouse or any type of industrial project," he said, adding that many other cities have similar limits and rules. "It's not like we are out of the ordinary here."

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

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