Large retailers OK in Frederickson after County Council again overrides veto

Large-scale retailers will be allowed in Frederickson after all. The Pierce County Council voted 5-2 Tuesday to override a veto by County Executive Pat McCarthy.

McCarthy’s veto, announced in a letter to the council last week, was her second attempt to block big-box stores from locating in the mostly industrial area of Frederickson.

An ordinance approved earlier this month allows retail developments as large as 170,000 square feet in the unincorporated community east of Spanaway, up from the current limit of 60,000 square feet.

Each large-scale project will still need a development agreement and multiple layers of scrutiny before obtaining county approval, a modification from an earlier proposal.

That change was made in direct response to McCarthy’s previous veto in July. She rejected the county’s entire comprehensive plan, in part due to the proposal to allow big-box retail in Frederickson.

McCarthy has maintained that allowing large retailers would jam up the Canyon Road freight corridor and invite uncontrolled commercial growth.

Frederickson’s population has exploded at the same time leaders have worked to solidify the area as an industrial core. County officials have worked to maintain high-wage jobs in the area while Frederickson residents have called for more shopping and related services.

McCarthy said Wednesday she’s disappointed with the “short-sighted” decision. But she said her team will follow the policies approved by the council “in a constructive manner.”

Councilman Derek Young was the only one to speak prior to Tuesday’s vote. He had cast the decisive veto-proof vote to approve the ordinance on Aug. 11.

Young said he agrees with many of McCarthy’s arguments. But he reiterated that he supported the “imperfect deal” so as not to jeopardize the larger comprehensive plan and the grant money that comes with it.

“This I felt was the best deal we could get,” Young said, “to make sure we comply with state law.”