What prompted you to realize there was a zoning code issue for the existing concrete batching faciity?

    The property owner actually caught it. In 2017 Corliss Resources submitted an application for a zoning code text amendment requesting that the City allow mineral extraction uses to be a conditional use in the General Commercial district. When the Corliss Resources site was developed years ago, they obtained permits and erected the facility in Pierce County. In 2003, the City annexed the property, and the existing mineral extraction uses continued to operate. The City’s comprehensive plan maps identified the site as Mineral Resource Land, pursuant to SMC 16.44 and RCW 36.70A.050. However, during the first East Sumner Neighborhood Area Plan, the site was considered to be future developable lands for residential and commercial uses upon completion of mining activities and the mining and mineral uses were inadvertently removed as allowed/conditional uses in the General Commercial zone, which had the effect of rendering Corliss’ permitted development in the General Commercial zone legally non-conforming. The facility straddles the General Commercial zone, the Low-Density Residential (LDR) zone, and Pierce County. Ironically, mineral extraction—including its defined accessory uses such as asphalt--were already an allowed/conditional use in Sumner’s LDR zone and in Pierce County prior to Corliss submitting its application. The oversight was in the General Commercial zone only.   Operating in a legally non-conforming status allows property owners to continue operating but has other restrictive effects. If the existing facility was damaged in any way, they could have only rebuilt in the LDR  zone (and in Pierce County) that already included mineral extraction. And damage beyond 50% value could not rebuild at all. That status can also harm financing, insurance, etc.  Plus, the City’s Comprehensive Plan identifies the subject property as a protected Mineral Resource Land.  The State’s Growth Management Act puts obligations on a city to protect operations within land designated as such.

    What exactly was the zoning code change?

    Mineral Extraction was added as an accessory/conditional use in the General Commercial zone, just as it already had been in Sumner’s LDR zone, as well as a few other zones. This brought the City back in line with our own Comprehensive Plan and with the State’s Growth Management Act. It also brings the existing facility into conformity with all zones in which it sits. There’s more details in the 8/19/19 agenda packet: https://sumner.civicweb.net/filepro/documents/21034?preview=21398

    Has the original zoning issue totally been resolved, and now could an asphalt batching plant be added as an accessory use?

    Had the Council only changed the zoning, then asphalt plants by State law are included as an accessory use to mineral extraction facilities. Even at that, once a city receives an application for actual building/expansion to include an accessory use, it is by no means automatic. The applicant would have to go through an extensive conditional use permit process that involves city review, environmental assessment, public noticing and input. It appears that many residents were confused and believe this is the process that we were in, and we are not. There is currently no application for an asphalt batch plant. That said, the Council decided that they needed to prompt that conversation, even absent an actual application. Corliss Resources could site an asphalt batch plant in the portion of their property zoned LDR. The Council and staff felt it was best to press pause on any possible development in order to determine the possible impacts of such use. The way to do that was to enact Interim Development Regulations on August 5 prohibiting asphalt plants throughout Sumner in general, pending more information. That gives Council a proper process to discuss the theory of this use and actually assess real, potential impacts. So, the rest of the zoning got corrected but at the moment, no one can build or expand an existing asphalt batch plant in Sumner. (There is another plant operating already off Puyallup Street since the mid-1990s.) More details here: https://sumner.civicweb.net/filepro/documents/21094?preview=21400

    What are the next steps in an IDR process?

    So now we’re in the process of assessing the impacts of asphalt plants in general, and like everything, it is a process. As part of the IDR, Council directed staff to hire an independent consultant to report on the health, economic, and social impacts of asphalt. The Department of Health contacted the City offering to perform the health analysis. The city will receive later this fall a Health Impact Assessment and Real Estate report. We will share these with Council and with the public on this page. The timeline and explanation also on this page walks you through the process, including when there’s time to comment.

    Is it even within the city council's power to stop a potential asphalt plant?

    The issue is not that black-and-white. There’s already one plant that has been operating in Sumner for years, actually located more in the center of town than the Corliss facility. We have not received any complaints about it since its operation began in the mid-1990s. The other complication is that the Corliss site is half in Sumner and half outside of Sumner in unincorporated Pierce County.  If Sumner’s Council completely zones out asphalt plants, the property owners could move any future facilities a few feet and place it in Pierce County’s jurisdiction. Then, the entire conversation people want to have over a specific application, impacts, and potential restrictions would move to Pierce County, and Sumner would lose all ability to influence what protections would have to be in place, etc.