By Marianne LincolnI
f you have lived in the suburbs of Pierce County more than 30 years, you have seen a great deal of change.
What were once gravel roads with large ditches, became oil and gravel composites. Those composites are now arterials carrying significant traffic numbers within the urban growth boundaries.
Waterways that used to host seasonal fish and waterfowl, were downgraded to the title of stormwater runoff. Those were subsequently buried in dirt, houses or warehouses put on top, with a neighboring hole scooped in the ground to “recharge the aquifer” a method not the same as assisting the usual underground water table system to replace water that moved to flowing creeks where salmon used to spawn.
In the Frederickson Industrial development, an entire seasonal stream was scraped of the surface of a former pasture, dirt piled on the other side of the road. The former stream flows into pipes that flow to a stormwater retention pond a mile away. The awesome view of Mount Rainier was partially blocked by the dirt. The pasture area on the south side of the road was designated a wildlife refuge for the water foul that regularly inhabited it. But the developer dug a pond and surrounded it with fir and cedar trees, creating what will be a forested wetland, not the grassy space the flyway birds were using. Those trees will grow and also totally block the mountain view the entire neighborhood enjoyed. This was tracked by numerous residents and complaints abounded, with zero results.
Many neighbors report filling of wetlands, for the purpose of creating dry land to build upon, to enhance sale value. This is the “forgiveness is better than jumping through the hoops” attitude many residents have.
Near Clover Creek in the Brookdale area, fill and gravel was added to a lot right on the edge of Clover Creek and a car storage lot was placed on top.
In the canyon of Canyon Road, a gravel quarry has moved the edge of their mining right to the edge at the top of the hill above the canyon, allowing for runoff of mud down into the ravine.
You can say it is nothing new, Pierce County has been turning a blind eye for years. A development between Gonyea Field and Tule Lake changed the water hydraulics and now Tule Lake has been filling with mud.
What matters is someday, many of us continue to hope things will improve. We hear the Governor saying how important our streams and waters are for salmon and Orca, but then we see another development damage Clover Creek.
For many years, concerned citizens have monitored campaign contributions for County Council and other County positions. Builders, contractors, road builders and other businesses that benefit from growth and development are 90% of the money that gets people elected in Pierce County.
We look no further than the Land Use Advisory Committees for various communities and the Planning Commission; they are stacked with builders and real estate agents. Our own Hearings Examiner, who is charged with final decisions on building variances and his deputy are in business together as lawyers, a business which includes helping developers get through the planning process. How can he recuse himself for a client when the deputy is in the same office?
When will it end Pierce County? Will it end when there is no water left in the sole source aquifer for your developments?
Will it end when Pierce County? When you have killed all the water in South Puget Sound?
When will it end Pierce County? We know developers will never have enough building permits and people from “California” keep streaming here looking for housing, demand that outstrips the ability to build schools.
When will it end Pierce County? When will you start doing this with a priority for the citizens that live here? When will you start caring more for the ecology of our place over the number of houses you can squeeze on a wetland parcel?
When will you stop stripping stream and calling them stormwater. I am certain salmon needed the seasonal flow, but the flow into Clover Creek from Spanaway, Frederickson and Collins has been diverted in a bajillion ways.
We want to see you care, but even with dire warnings from more than a dozen citizens, you just placed another well known developer on the Planning Commission.
Trust this, if we citizens had the money, we would be suing you a dozen ways from Sunday. Right now, all we can do is write letters that are ignored and take photos for proof another day. Maybe that day will come, maybe it won’t. There must be a reckoning sometime.
We have tried to get the state to step in, maybe they do not believe us or maybe they do not really care either. Maybe someone in the Federal Government might look someday and say, what the ???
Or maybe, we should elect a County Executive who isn’t a developer again, someday.