With minor last-minute change amendments, the Pierce County Council unanimously passed the Key Peninsula Comprehensive Plan on Oct. 23. A vote on the issue had been postponed the previous week after receipt of a letter by an environmental organization challenging the plan.

Photo by Danna Webster

Futurewise, a statewide organization focused on slow growth, recommended to Pierce County Councilman Terry Lee and legislative analyst Mike Kruger (formerly a planner who coordinated the plan) that they remove three specific parcels from the Rural Neighborhood Center classification.

According to Lee, the organization, which was not present at the Oct. 23 meeting, threatened an appeal of the entire KP plan to the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board if their suggestions were not followed.

A spontaneous additional amendment made at the October hearing by Councilman Tim Farrell was unanimously approved by the council, and resolved the classification challenge on one of the three, a parcel at 118th Avenue and State Route 302. In that case, the parcel classification Futurewise objected to was “swapped” at owner Jarvis Owens’ suggestion (made during public testimony), with another property he owned directly behind it lying within a different classification boundary. A second property on Futurewise’s change list was a parcel in Longbranch acquired by Mike and Denise Hays, owners of the Longbranch Mercantile. Speaking before the council, Denise Hays said plans they had worked on for five years, both through the county and within the KP planning process, would be impossible to implement with the proposed change. No solution was presented; speaking to Hays, Lee said, “I think we can work with you (to find a workable resolution).”

Addressing the audience, Lee said his concern at this late hour was “how to keep this plan out of an appeal process.” In an interview, Kruger told the KP News he had never heard of Futurewise until the organization’s letter. Dated Oct. 9, the letter had the subject line “Please reconsider the proposed Key Peninsula Community Plan.” The letter illustrated the group’s success “less than two weeks ago” of an appeal to the Graham community plan. Kruger launched into action, alerting the community of proposed changes and meeting with Futurewise to craft a workable solution.

Lee told the audience at the meeting, “My hat is off to Mike (Kruger) for trying to prevent (an appeal action).”

The new ordinance now goes to the county executive, who has 10 days to sign and return it to the council. At that point, a 60-day appeal period begins. If no appeals surface, the plan will be fully approved. In the interim, the county executive is making his recommendations for appointments to the new Key Peninsula Advisory Council. Made up of local KP residents, the KPAC will work “hand-in-hand with Pierce County to develop the rules and regulations of the KPCP — the teeth of the plan — (to determine) the specifics of what can occur where (within the plan boundaries),” Lee said.

Lee stressed the importance of continued community involvement in that process. He anticipates the rules, regulations, KPCP, and KPAC will be in place by April 2008 to use as a guide to future development.

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