News

Strip leaves Lowe's in question

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

A dream to one side of the street can be a nightmare to the other.

A strip of land, about 6 feet wide running along 100th Street Court East and wrapping part way down 200th Avenue Court East, has become a focal point of contention between two neighborhoods - Brookwater and the residents of area 41.

Lowe's, the giant home improvement chain, submitted a site plan to build a store on South Prairie Road, across from Albertson's. Part of the plan includes a roundabout at the intersection of 100th Street Court East and 200th Avenue Court East. To build the roundabout, Lowe's will need to purchase or gain an easement to the strip of land, which is owned by the Brookwater Homeowners' Association.

Last week, Bonney Lake Planning Director Bob Leedy sent a letter to Bill Fortunato of PacLand, the Seattle development firm handling the Lowe's project, stating the permit process would be halted until Lowe's has control of the property.

“It is our understanding the (Brookwater) Homeowners' Association opposes Lowe's acquiring rights in that property. Whether that is or is not the case, the application, as submitted, does not include permission to use the Homeowners Association property for the Lowe's project. I have been informed by both the Mayor and City Council that the City has no intention of attempting to use eminent domain authority for private purposes or otherwise inject itself into a private property acquisition,” Leedy wrote.

The letter goes on to state the city will “not be able to proceed with design review or building permit issuance unless or until it receives confirmation that Lowe's has obtained an ownership interest or permission that is sufficient to allow it to build the roundabout.”

The strip of land, according to Bob Lockwood, a homeowner in area 41 where Lowe's would be built, was the reason Home Depot pulled out of the site and relocated on 214th Avenue East.

“Home Depot (representatives) found it (the strip),” Lockwood said. “No one knew about it before they came in. They (Home Depot) didn't want to get tangled up with it.”

Lockwood, who has lived in Bonney Lake for 18 years, said there are seven homes, including his, in area 41, the planning department designation for the small neighborhood. Lockwood built his home and three others in the area. The homes were built in the late 1980s and ‘90s. The area with the Brookwater property was annexed into the city in 1999.

Prior to annexation, Pierce County zoned area 41 commercial, which was retained by the city.

“The reason they (Brookwater) are in the city is we agreed to annex for them,” Lockwood said. “The problems are coming from the development. Now they don't want any more congestion. It's kind of a Catch-22.”

Lockwood said he considers the buffer a “spite strip” that was left in place by the Brookwater developers to stop area 41 residents from gaining access to 100th Avenue Court East.

Rumors have circulated in the neighborhood that the strip was left in because area 41 residents would not contribute funds to the construction of 100th.

Lockwood said he's heard the rumor, “but I can't recall any of that.”

City officials said there is no record of a dispute concerning the buffer strip.

According to Lockwood, Lowe's representatives have offered a purchase and sale agreement to the area 41 homeowners, “but nothing is done until it is done. The people in area 41 are getting nervous.”

Residents from Brookwater have spoken out before the City Council against the roundabout and the Lowe's project moving forward.

Laurie Martin, a Brookwater resident, spearheaded a petition drive that was circulated among the surrounding developments affected by the project. The petition asked the city to reconsider the roundabout.

“We got close to 400 signatures going door to door,” Martin said. “Everyone we approached signed.”

The petition stated: “ I oppose permitting commercial access onto a residential arterial, specifically 200th Avenue Court East and 100th Street Court East. We ask the leadership of the city to protect our communities by supporting its residents.”

The president of the Brookwater Homeowners' Association, Cecil Sidwell, said Lowe's has not approached the association with an offer concerning the strip of land.

Sidwell said an election of the associations' members is planned for mid-to-late August. There are 86 members and a two-thirds vote (or 58 members) would be needed to approve allowing access to the strip.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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