West Hills changes prompt fear of annexation

Puyallup: Land use designation has no effect on homes in unincorporated Pierce County adjacent to city

of the HeraldFebruary 12, 2014 

Puyallup planning staff members provided information to more than 60 residents of the West Hills neighborhood on Thursday regarding changes that are being made to the West Hills Neighborhood Plan, part of the city’s comprehensive plan that’s being updated for 2015.

Residents learned during an open house at Fruitland Elementary School that those who live in the annexed portion of the West Hills neighborhood will see their land use designation change to the city’s existing Low Density Residential area.

Senior Planner Katie Baker said 90 percent of the residential areas in the city now fall under the LDR designation, and West Hills is the exception. The city designated the West Hills Neighborhood Plan in 2001 before the area was annexed in 2009.

“All single-family neighborhoods have the low-density residential land-use designation,” Baker said. “This change is meant to simplify the land-use designation for the city as a whole and to make the neighborhood consistent with other single-family neighborhoods.”

Many residents came from a part of the neighborhood that’s still in unincorporated Pierce County. It’s bordered by Fruitland Avenue East, the city limits and Woodland Avenue East, the border of the city’s urban growth area.

Those residents feared that Puyallup is moving aggressively to annex them, Baker said.

“We did a lot of work to assure the people that the city is not going out to the unincorporated neighborhood to force them to annex,” Baker said. “We are not actively pursuing to annex. They would need to request to us for annexation.”

The LDR designation and the West Hills Neighborhood Plan both fall under the city’s RS-10 zone, which allows for homes on 10,000-square-foot lots. That means zoning would remain the same for West Hill residents who live within the city, Baker said.

The land use designation change would remove the West Hills Neighborhood Plan and move elements and policies of it to other elements of the comprehensive plan, which include utilities, the environment, parks, recreation and open space.

When the West Hills Neighborhood Plan originally was established in 2001, it was meant to help confirm allowable housing densities, address potential impacts on the Maplewood Springs Watershed, outline a process for utility service extension and set priorities for development and anticipated growth, according to a city document.

The West Hills neighborhood was part of the 2009 West Hills Annexation that brought in 719 acres and more than 1,700 residents.

The city’s updated Comprehensive Plan will be adopted by June 2015.

To learn more

Questions about the West Hills Neighborhood Plan can be emailed to ourfuture@ci.puyallup.wa.us. Katie Baker can be reached at 253-435-3604. More information on the Comprehensive Plan update can be found at www.cityofpuyallup.org/engagingourfuture.

Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at andrew.fickes@puyallupherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.

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