Tehaleh needs more than a single road access if it is to become Pierce County’s newest city, area residents told the Pierce County Planning Commission late Wednesday.
The 5,300-acre proposed city, most of which lies within Newland Communities’ Tehaleh planned development south of Bonney Lake, is accessible only over a steeply sloped, two-lane, dead-end road, 198th Avenue East.
Newland, which is asking the county to designate the area a “potential incorporation area,” says it plans to build a new road connecting the development with state Route 162 north of Orting and west of the proposed city in the next several years.
But residents who live within the proposed incorporation area outside the Tehaleh development, told the commission that Newland needs to restore road access to the east. That access, along a forest road, once connected the area to Prairie Ridge, but Tehaleh’s original developer cut that access when he prepared the land it crossed to become a golf course.
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“We need a way out before there are more people,” Marikay Crimpton told the commission.
The original developer lost the huge tract to financial issues, and the golf course was never built. Newland, Tehaleh’s subsequent owner, plans homes on the tract once destined for golf.
Crimpton is among residents who live off 198th Avenue East beyond the single entrance to Tehaleh. To reach Bonney Lake, she and others in the area must follow the same road as do residents of Tehaleh. The development, when fully built out, will be home to some 25,000 residents. An adjacent development, Plateau 465, now in the planning stages could be the home to nearly 10,000 more.
Rosanna Miller, another longtime resident of the area, said she too is concerned about traffic and emergency egress from the area. Miller said she is concerned that incorporation might force residents outside the development to hook up to water and sewer systems. Many of those residents now have wells and use septic tanks.
Newland has plans both to widen 198th to allow more traffic as well as to build a westward arterial. Newland is seeking county approval of a plan for the second phase of the development. Requirements for more access roads could be included in the phase two approval.
Designation of the area as a potential incorporation area is the first step toward cityhood. It doesn’t preclude the area from remaining in incorporated Pierce County or being annexed to nearby Bonney Lake. An effort by Bonney Lake two years ago to annex the area ended because of local opposition.
Before the area could seriously consider incorporation, it would have to attract more residents and businesses that would produce enough tax revenue to make a new city financially viable. That process could take years.
The Tehaleh development itself now has some 2,500 residents and the area outside the development, but within the boundaries of the potential incorporation area, has about 140 more.
The incorporation area covers some 5,300 acres. About 4,700 are within Newland’s development. Under the development plan, the area would attract offices and retailers in addition to the residences.
The county’s planning department is asking the commission to recommend the potential incorporation area designation to the Pierce County Council for approval.
Bonney Lake planning supervisor Jason Sullivan noted that if Tehaleh becomes its own city, it will have to designate, under state law, areas available for such uses as adult entertainment and sex offender housing, something that would be unnecessary if it stayed in the county or joined Bonney Lake, which already have such areas designated for those purposes.
Before the area could be considered for incorporation, a feasibility study likely would be required, county planners said. The area’s residents would have the ultimate say on whether to become a city.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663