Sumner enters first phase of comprehensive plan update

Policy document will set vision for community from 2015 through 2035

Staff writerApril 30, 2014 

For the city of Sumner, population 9,500, sustaining a walkable community well into the future is an overarching goal.

“Right now our vision is about our small town character,” said Ryan Windish, the city’s planning manager. “We pride ourselves on being a walkable, pedestrian-friendly town that has a sense of place and has good planning.”

In March, the city collected surveys from residents asking them what they would like to see implemented and adopted as part of the 2015 comprehensive plan update, which addresses everything from community vision to transportation, housing, the environment and the economy.

Windish said the Sumner City Council is required by the state Growth Management Act to adopt a revised 2015 comprehensive plan by June 30 of next year. This policy document, Windish said, will set the course for the community for the next 20 years.

“We did a comprehensive plan update in 2005,” Windish said. “We are allowed to amend the plan no more than once a year. Sumner usually does minor amendments every two years.”

Carmen Palmer, the city’s communications director, said survey data is now being assessed. On Thursday, the public was invited to attend a comprehensive plan workshop where city staff represented all the elements of the plan update. Another opportunity for the public to attend a workshop will be from 5-8 p.m. on May 29 at city hall.

“What we’re trying to do here in the first phase of the planning process is to have a conversation with the community and inform them on the trends and take in what their observations are. So, if they’re feeling like we need more parks, trails or traffic problems need to be fixed, they can make us aware of those and we can fit that into the plan.”

Windish said several trends heading Sumner’s way during the next 20 years will influence what is addressed in the comprehensive plan. With an aging population, for instance, Windish said the city will need to address that with enhancements to walkability or providing transit as an option.

Housing is another issue affected by emerging trends, Windish said.

“We need housing that addresses all the life stages,” Windish said.

Another trend is business development. Windish said the current plan addresses a culture that is friendly to small businesses. He said the city’s current document addresses plans for 1,800 acres of industrial property to the north of the downtown.

“We’re already trying to promote more manufacturing,” he said.

In terms of demographics, Windish said the Hispanic population has become a rising segment of the community.

“Ten percent of our population now is Hispanic,” Windish explained. “Back in the 1990s, it was 5 to 6 percent. How do we capture that segment?”

The survey sent out in January and February was also published in Spanish, which was distributed to targeted areas.

Another pocket of the population is the younger generation, Windish said.

“Kids in their teens and those in their 20s have different ideas of what it means to be a livable community,” Windish said. “They are more urban-focused. Nightlife is more their interest.”

Windish said starting in November and December, the city’s planning commission will review changes to the plan and make recommendations to the council. Community residents also will have an opportunity then to attend a public hearing.

“Council will deliberate and conduct a public hearing before taking final action in the spring,” Windish said.

if you go

A second comprehensive plan workshop will be from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, May 29, at Sumner City Hall.

Andrew Fickes: 253-552-7001 andrew.fickes Twitter: @herald_andrew

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