Know Your Planning Commission 7.11.12

***This is a recap of the planning commission meeting.  It will run after each of their meetings.  It is written by District 3 resident and Planning Commission Member Chris McNutt.***

The Planning Commission is a Council appointed yet independent body of citizens who act as a vetting/advisory organization for land use and zoning to the City Council. The following is a personal account and may not reflect the opinions of other Planning Commission members. On July 11, 2012 the Planning Commission reviewed three topics.

  • The WSU Research and Extension Center Master Plan
  • An Introduction to the South Hill Neighborhood Plan
  • Updates on the LID (Low Impact Development) and Urban Forestry Plans

The WSU Research and Extension Center Master Plan

Washington State University has a great 162 acre agricultural research campus on the west side of town at the junction of Pioneer and Fruitland. They are looking to upgrade their facilities as part of a long term project and as funds become available. The Puyallup WSU facility hold the following vision statement.

“Bridging the past to the future, providing research, instruction and outreach services through an interdisciplinary approach for the study and development of ecologically sound, socially responsible, and economically viable sustainable urban communities.”

To accomplish this vision, they are planning some renovation.  The buildings and facilities are aging. As a pretty major agricultural research facility they are looking to upgrade and prepare for the future. If you’d like to know more about what goes on at the Puyallup research campus, click this link.

Part of their plan also includes access to some of their open spaces and creation of limited-use trails connecting to Clark’s Creek.

As a major overhaul of the campus, they must develop and submit a Master Plan rather than a permit request. The full WSU Master Plan draft document may be viewed and downloaded here.

An Introduction to the South Hill Neighborhood Plan

In my last article I mentioned the CBD (Central Business District) is designated as one of our Regional Growth Center; this section focuses on the other. Puyallup’s second Regional Growth Center located on South Hill and is bordered by 27th Ave SE on Meridian (in the north) to just after the Michael’s near 47th Ave SE on Meridian (in the south). From behind the mall on 94th St (in the west) to Wildwood and 39th Ave just past Pierce College (in the east).

The Puget Sound Regional Council anticipates a large influx of population over time and is looking for places to put new residents. Within Puyallup, the above outlined area seems like the best place for that growth. The overall intent is to accommodate and encourage high density commercial and residential structures. Imagine a corporation’s headquarters occupying several floors of a building with retail outlets on the lowest level. Nearby housing with costs in line with the employment opportunities of these businesses. Viable alternative transportation options such as walking or biking fused with tree lined streets and community amenities.  It’s a pretty large departure from the current direction, but as dreams go, it seems like a fine one.

The Planning Commision will continue to review this rather massive plan as more design and analysis are completed into mid 2013.  Public hearings are planned in the summer of 2013 with proposed final adoption by the City Council as part of the 2013 Comprehensive Plan update.

Updates on the LID (Low Impact Development) and Urban Forestry Plans

We have some good news and bad news around the recent LID initiatives. The bad news is we need to revamp (read: cancel) the city initiated rain garden initiative, though there is one instalation still pending which will be completed.  The rain gardens been very successful, great community events, and high profile. Unfortunately the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) grant funding criteria has changed, and with it, the approval of new rain garden construction..  The good news is the city is working on some rebate programs which will include rain gardens as well as other LID projects such as pervious (permeable) driveways and rain barrels. The funding mechanisms for the rebate program are still being identified and the details worked out.

The previously named Urban Forestry Policies document is now known as the Urban Forestry and Green Infrastructure Policies document because the plans regulate more than just trees, extending into vegetative rules for the Right of Way and to other types of foliage.  Also, UFGIP (pronounced uf-gip) sounds better then UFP (uf-pee).

The bulk of the presentation and Q&A segment was centered on the breakdown of the specific zone goals based on the “30 by 30” long-term tree canopy coverage goal.  The idea is, for the purposes of stormwater mitigation, we need to increase the number and size of trees we have within the city. The easiest common measurement is overall tree canopy coverage. At a previous meeting we asked for specific goals broken down by zone as this is how the recent tree canopy study calculated. Below are some the figures we were presented with.

Each of these zones were then broken down by comparing them to cities with existing programs in order to illustrate some of the reasons why these zone specific goals were selected.

A discussion then took place around narrowing these goals into actionable items such as “a tree in every yard” or similar so we could have an easy to grasp plan. I personally stated concerns about the achievability of these goals given that new developments (especially the aforementioned South Hill Neighborhood Plan) are likely to result in a net loss of canopy, even if these goals are strictly enforced in new projects.

The Planning Commission then reviewed the text amendments suggested by various Commissioners and staff members as the next step in seeking recommended approval of the Uf-Gip policies for the Comprehensive Plan updates.

During the “Other Commission Business” portion of the agenda we had a discussion about the upcoming presentation on the CBD-Core zone and building heights. Commissioner Ordonez expressed a desire to see some framework around the creation of a Historic District and examples of how this has been done in other cities. Many other Commissioners agreed, though Commissioner Johnson expressed the need to consider economic impact with such a plan. This too was widely agreed with.

The meeting concluded with some comments, questions and concerns from three citizens as well as a literary recital from a Puyallup Lorax (land and tree steward).

For more specific information about the meeting, please keep your eyes on the City web site for the audio recording and minutes of the meeting (or click here for a copy of the agenda and supplied documents.)  If you have questions or concerns about this (or any other city matter) please reach out to any of the City Council or Planning Commission members.

 Chris McNutt
District 3
Planning Commissioner


Filed under Chris McNutt, Planning Commission

3 responses to “Know Your Planning Commission 7.11.12

  1. Georga Prossick

    This is great. Thank you, Chris

  2. Pingback: Know Your Planning Commission 9.12.12 | Puyallup NOW

  3. Pingback: Know Your Planning Commission - Chris McNutt for Puyallup City Council -

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