At the Jan. 8 meeting of the Key Peninsula Community Council, Pierce County councilmember Stan Flemming gave a “State of the County” report at the fire station in Key Center to a crowded room. Flemming is the councilman for District 7, which includes the Gig Harbor and Key peninsulas.
The focus of Flemming’s report was limited to items directly affecting the Key Peninsula.
After many years of budget and service cuts necessitated by declining revenue and mid-year deficits, he said the Pierce County budget has now started to recover, increasing from $905 million in 2013 to $978 million for 2014.
His report covered several topics, including struggles the new owners of the Lakebay Marina have had during refurbishing the landmark facilities (grandfathered from requirements of current regulations). Recent challenges were triggered by new building permit applications. Flemming said he assisted with “workarounds” which made completion possible.
The 360 Trails and Gateway Park adjoin each other, but had two different sets of zoning requirements which were complicated and burdensome for Key Pen Parks. The designation has been changed to a “park” zoning for both parks, he said.
Flemming said that the state-required update for the Shoreline Management Plan is nearing completion. “It has proven to be a conflict of stupidity verses common sense,” and he added “Shoreline property owners need to monitor these changes, because they will be affected greatly by new restrictions.”
When federal funds were cut from the Children’s Home Society, which could have resulted in its closure, Flemming said he helped restore the funding.
He also mentioned that in 2014, Pierce County will see the largest capital improvement project in the history of Pierce County at the Chambers Creek sewer treatment plant. And he discussed plans to consolidate all county operations into a single location at the previous Puget Sound Hospital to reduce redundancy and save money.
The councilman spoke of several public works projects on the KP, which will include shoulder widening for Key Pen Highway from 79th Street to Cramer Road, improvements along Herron Road, construction along State Route 302 at 118th Avenue, and construction through the Wauna curves.
Flemming said the county is working on an abandoned and foreclosed home ordinance to help ensure that properties are maintained when empty, and to discourage vandalism and theft, “placing the owner or bank on the hook,” he added.
Also included in his summary was a review of changes that would allow Key Pen Parks to conduct events without seeking approval from Pierce County before each event, which had been a requirement before Key Pen Parks became a separate municipal entity.
He announced Pierce County’s pilot program to broaden the responsibilities of the Key Peninsula Advisory Council (KPAC) and its interaction with KP residents.
A recent re-districting of District 7 resulted in a shift of the majority of voters from the Key and Gig Harbor peninsulas to the Tacoma side of the Narrows Bridge. That boundary change could affect whether our elected councilmember lives on or off the peninsulas and could drive decisions on county ordinances, he said.
The council position for District 7 will be on the general election ballot in November 2014.