By Debbie Klosowski, Mayor, City of University Place
Let It Snow…(on the ski hills!) December is upon us and we’ve already survived our first major winter storm. Thanks to our Public Works crew for doing an outstanding job keeping our major arterials safe and clear. We also appreciate citizens who’ve helped us keep storm drains clear as well as reporting any downed signs. Please remember to put any extra storm debris into yard waste toters since our limited crews are unable to do residential yard pickups after storms.
Remembering Fallen Officers – It was my privilege to attend the Lakewood Police Department’s Fallen Officer Memorial Dedication Ceremony earlier this week. It is still hard to believe that four Lakewood police officers were gunned down a year ago in a local coffee shop.
Sergeant Mark Renninger, Officer Ronnie Owens, Officer Tina Griswold and Officer Greg Richards made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our communities safe. Our gratitude and appreciation goes out to their families and fellow officers.
Please take a moment to extend thanks and appreciation to our own police officers, firefighters and military personnel who also risk their lives to keep our community safe. We are so grateful for their service and can never thank them enough for the jobs that they do.
City Council Business – This week, the UP City Council primarily focused on a review of the Town Center Planned Action Ordinance (PAO). This type of ordinance is basically a comprehensive tool to help communities plan for future development by identifying possible uses and addressing any potential significant environmental impacts from future projects.
Before we incorporated, our community held discussions about creating a traditional downtown with additional stores and gathering places. Since that time, our City has held numerous public meetings to gather additional public input about design standards, density and other issues.
In 2004, the City adopted the first Town Center PAO which roughly includes the area from 35th to Homestead Park along Bridgeport Way. Based upon extensive public input, the plan identifies a potential mix of maximum development that could occur in this area such as retail, restaurants, housing and a hotel. Based upon that potential maximum build out, the plan also identifies significant environmental impacts associated with that maximum build out as well as ideas on how to address them. For example, a significant increase in traffic could result in improvements at an intersection.
Designating a planned action area is an important economic development tool because it makes the area more financially attractive to developers. Using a PAO shifts the environmental review from the time a permit application is made to an earlier phase in the planning process. As a result, this streamlines the permit process and provides certainty to developers along with saving them time and money.
The PAO basically gives the City a competitive advantage over other areas which are also trying to attract development projects. So if a project meets design standards and codes, that project can proceed without additional land use and environmental reviews and go directly to the building permit phase.
Since the PAO requires periodic reviews to determine if conditions are still valid, the Council spent most of the meeting discussing those items. Even though the City has changed its focus from a master site developer to selling individual parcels, the PAO is still valid since the identified overall mix of future uses has not changed. This also applies to the Civic Building, Library and Applebee’s Restaurant….even though locations have changed; the uses are still within the parameters identified within the original PAO. As a result, the Council agreed to review the PAO again next year.
Prior to the vote, several citizens expressed concerns regarding a potential extension of 37th Street. The extension was initially included several years ago based upon a request from the Fire Department regarding emergency response times; however, it appears this concern is no longer valid due to the location of the fire station on 40th as well as the Public Safety building.
Council reaffirmed that citizen concerns were heard and indicated that the matter has been sent on to the Planning Commission for review. This process is necessary since the proposal also appears in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan which is scheduled for review next year.
In other action, the Council approved:
Grandview Drive Safe Routes to School to construct curb, gutter, sidewalk, bike lane, landscaping and streetlights along the west side of Grandview Drive between 19th and 27th. The project is funded through a $782,000 State Safe Routes to Schools grant along with $140,000 in surface water management funds to cover the storm drainage elements of the project.
Building/Land Use Extensions – Granted the Development Services Director the authority to grant 180 day extensions to building and land use permits to help developers cope with the economic downturn.
U.P. Municipal Court – U.P. residents will find it much more convenient to go to court next year thanks to a partnership between the City of University Place and the City of Lakewood. Earlier this week, members of the City Council joined Lakewood Mayor Doug Richardson in “launching” the first UP Municipal Court which will be located within the Lakewood City Hall Building.
Our City has contracted with Pierce County for court services since 1995. Following an extensive review by our Public Safety Commission and City staff, it became apparent that it would be beneficial for our City to partner with Lakewood in establishing a new municipal court for our citizens.
Besides providing a more convenient location, our City will receive customized court services such as:
* Detailed monthly reports summarizing court activities and operational costs
* Increased emphasis on issues important to our community such as code enforcement
* Opportunities to participate regarding potential court changes
On December 13, the Council is scheduled to officially form the court and swear in the Honorable Judge Ernest Heller as our judge overseeing non-felony issues such as DUIs, domestic violence, code enforcement, land use and other traffic related issues. Especially during these trying economic times, it is important that we do our best to provide cost effective and efficient services to our citizens. U.P. will pay the City of Lakewood $225,000 for the one year contract which will be reviewed on a year-to-year basis. Under the County, the cost was projected to increase to over $500,000 over the next few years.
We very much appreciate the willingness of the City of Lakewood to partner with us and look forward to a successful U.P. Municipal Court starting on January 1, 2011.
Santa Paws – Bring your favorite pooch or pet to the annual “Santa Paws” pet photos this Saturday, December 4, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Windmill Village complex (3715 Bridgeport Way W). Pictures are $10 each (frames $1) with all proceeds going to SUNDogs to help maintain the off leash dog park.
Tree Lighting – Join us at City Hall this Saturday to celebrate the City’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony starting at 3 p.m. Wander through the magical lighted forest within Homestead Park, visit with Santa and enjoy children’s arts and crafts. Check out great gift items in the Silent Auction benefitting the U.P. Parks and Recreation program. Enjoy sounds of the season by local school choirs followed by the tree lighting at 6:15 p.m.
Holiday Food & Gift Drive – Please help make the holidays brighter for friends and neighbors in our community by bringing nonperishable food items to the tree lighting. New unwrapped toys, clothes and gifts for teens are also needed. All items can also be dropped off at the U.P. Fire Station, 3631 Drexler Drive West.
Playground by the Sound – Keep voting for Playground by the Sound!
The project recently moved into the $25,000 category for the online Pepsi Refresh Contest. Visit www.playgroundbythesound.org to sign up and cast your vote.
This project is a communitywide effort to build an ADA accessible playground on the Chambers Creek Properties. Designed by local schoolchildren, this will be an outstanding playground incorporating unique historical and natural elements of Puget Sound. By voting every day, you can help make this dream a reality!
As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to contact me at dklosowski@CityofUP.com