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New administration, new deal
Fears of streets choked with traffic drives city to seek better bargain
By Dennis Box
Bonney Lake's mayor and City Council fired a shot across the bow of Cascadia and Pierce County last week, making it clear a new administration has taken over the city.
Mayor Neil Johnson said last week he directed the city attorney, Jim Dionne, to look at all the documents and agreements the city has with Cascadia to see if “there are items that don't add up.”
According to Patrick Kuo, Cascadia's president, the development is the largest employment-based planned community in the state with 6,500 homes, nearly 17,000 people and 10,000 jobs covering about 4,700 acres just south of Bonney Lake.
The development will be built in three phases spanning 20 years, with phase one already under way with 1,719 homes. Kuo founded the Cascadia Development Corporation in 1991 and the county has approved the phase one development.
City officials fear there will be gridlock on state Route 410 and in Bonney Lake from Cascadia, plus the 1,100 homes in the Falling Water development and another 2,000 in a third planned developed in the southern region.
“No one I've talked to in the city is saying Cascadia is a wonderful thing for Bonney Lake,” Johnson said. “It's like letting our competition head us down the road, build out and squash us. We don't want our roads completely congested. We want a certain quality of life in our city. Our intention is not to stop them. We just want the county and Cascadia to do what they are supposed to do.”
A mitigation agreement between the city and Cascadia signed by former mayor Bob Young and Kuo in 1998 states the city is to receive $360,000 with road and intersection improvements as a mitigation plan.
“I want to look at the real mitigation in today's dollars, not way back when,” Johnson said. “I don't think it's fair they do a mitigation plan then do something 10 years later. Today, we have real cost and real concerns. We need to get resolved what is going to happen to our city.”
The mayor noted the $14 million price tag for completion of the 192nd corridor, which provides another north-south route from the south Plateau to SR 410. Although the cost could drop once the road is designed, Johnson questioned, “Who gets stuck with that bill?”
Chuck Lappenbusch, senior vice president of Cascadia, said the development is only responsible for percent of the new households” in the south Plateau region and 44 percent of the new employment.
Bill Lynn, from the law firm that represents Cascadia, noted a new group of elected officials have come into office since the phase one plan was approved.
“The new people were not involved in the process,” Lynn said. “Some of Bonney Lake's problems are commercial development that didn't pay a lot in terms of mitigation fees. Cascadia has tried to work with the city and it is a little disheartening for (them) to try to renegotiate.”
Johnson said the city is willing to work with Cascadia and Pierce County, but “not if something is going to be crammed down our throat.”
The city has become emboldened since a Pierce County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Orting, throwing out a sewer service agreement between the city and Cascadia.
“Orting has paved the road,” Johnson said. “People have said we can't challenge them. Well, there is a difference between me and Bob Young. It's the right thing to do at the right time.”
Dennis Box can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.