Hundreds of Wilkeson-area residents sign petition against land development

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Development in East Pierce County continues with a proposed 74-house development outside of Wilkeson, and many locals aren’t happy with the idea of more traffic.

A petition with more than 675 signatures was sent to the Town of Wilkeson to stop the construction of a subdivision off of state Route 165 outside of the town.

Courtney Jackson, a Wilkeson resident who spearheaded the effort, said she is concerned about the impact to the environment and traffic.

“These new homebuyers are destroying our wildlife and putting pressure on our very limited resources,” she told The News Tribune. “It’s like there’s no wild areas of Washington, at least on the Westside anymore. It’s devastating.”

The online petition looks to prevent urban sprawl in Wilkeson, a town where there is only one option to drive into town, attend elementary school or fill up on gas.

According to documents provided to The News Tribune and Wilkeson Town Council meetings, a request to link to the town’s water system for 74 homes was submitted in April. On May 12, Wilkeson agreed to work with the developer to provide water pipes for the property in unincorporated Pierce County.

Mayor Jeff Sellers did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

A public records request has been made on the contract and surrounding documents.

The Town of Wilkeson Municipal Water System has capacity for a total of 571 equivalent residential water connections, according to the town. Currently, Wilkeson has 374 connections in use and 197 available connections able to be sold.

Pierce County has not received an application to develop the property and begin the permitting process, county spokesperson Erin Babbo said.

Before construction begins, permits must be obtained, an environmental impact study completed, and public hearings held.

Erickson Logging owns the 385 acres where the development would occur.

Concerned locals spoke out against the contract at the May 26 town meeting. Burnett Water District Commissioner Bob Harding shared his concerns regarding the proposed water sale for Burnett Landing.

“He has many concerns regarding the development, septic systems, and how it could contaminate or disrupt Burnett Water District,” the agenda summarizing his comments said. “Water is a commodity, it must be protected. He is not totally opposed to the development, just where they are proposing it be developed.”

Harding could not be reached for further comment from The News Tribune.

One town council member Mark Zumba also expressed his opposition to the proposal in the town council meeting, but did not respond for comment.

Jackson is worried that the town on the edge of Mount Rainier National Park will lose its charm, and cheaper costs of living if more development occurs.

“It’s just destroying some of the small-town vibe, and none of us want to do that. It is really important to us out here,” she said. “We tend to be more — compared to Seattle — like very average middle income and the population that is coming here … it’s definitely a rising cost of living for us as well as a burden.”

This story was written and originally published by The News Tribune.

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