Sad Legacy of the Van Lierop Rezone: Turns Out John Palmer & Heather Shadko Were Right

First, let’s get something straight in regards to the misnamed Friends of Puyallup PAC of warehouse developers. They blame the ills of the city on the “mayor” in this election, but the mayor in Puyallup is just one of seven council members. It takes four to tango. Moreover, the current mayor, serving what is just a two-year rotation as facilitator of council meetings, is currently in the minority. He’s been voting against the majority in the past year, a majority who continue to pass ordinances (mostly against non-profit organizations) that are being rejected by courts and other oversight agencies, and costing us “millions” as they say.

Important Background

There is one Republican endorsed member of city council who won’t cave to outside warehouse interests, so the F.O.P. PAC wants to pad the majority in this election. F.O.P. says “Mayor Palmer” is responsible for “recent legal mistakes,” but we know their claims are a tactic to mislead voters away from the true motive: get rid of someone who has opposed warehouses for over 8 years.

The F.O.P. PAC is mailing and calling Puyallup voters with brainwashing tactics disguised as polling. Those who live in Puyallup’s District 2, where incumbent John Palmer is up for re-election, are receiving the bulk of attention. Here’s an example of the calls and mailers voters will receive. In their most recent Facebook page “poll” they asked, “Do you support the job of Mayor Palmer? The legal bills are stacking up for the Puyallup taxpayer. Over the past several years, Puyallup taxpayers have paid $10 million (note: exaggerated by several million) for the city council’s and mayor’s legal mistakes.”

Salvaging A Sad Legacy: John Palmer, Heather Shadko, Julie Door & John Hopkins gained a majority on Puyallup City Council in 2014 and were instrumental in securing a portion of the Van Lierop farm for a park and the neighboring Step by Step shelter. Not hard to imagine how beautiful the area would have been without the rezone to warehouses. Palmer and Shadko, back when they were on planning commission, had helped negotiate the property to be zoned as mixed-use commercial, residential and parks – all of which could have been designed with the Mt. Rainier view in mind.

One of Palmer’s legal victories has been to keep a majority of council members in favor of requiring an environmental impact statement before new warehouses can be built. Not a legal mistake. In fact, the city, under Palmer’s leadership, has won this fight all the way through a unanimous State Supreme Court decision.

The Sad Legacy

Remember how it takes 4 council votes to do anything in Puyallup? Tom Swanson, a current council member who has served alongside Palmer for 8 years, voted to change the Van Lierop farm zoning to allow warehouses in 2013. He voted with former “mayors” Knutsen, Hansen and councilman Vermillion during a 2013 lame duck session. The lame duck session occurred in November after Heather Shadko and Julie Door were elected to council earlier in the month – on platforms in opposition to the rezone – before they could take their seats in January.

The 4-2 decision (one council member opposing the rezone had just resigned) to allow the rezone resulted in the Van Lierops selling their property to Schnitzer Industries for about $2.25 million. Schnitzer turned around not long after and sold the land for over $9* million. It’s a sad legacy, knowing that those of us who argued against the rezone were right: they were being taken for a ride, with Swanson, Knutsen, Hansen and Vermillion in the passenger seats.

Click here to read a News Tribune article from September, 2013 on passing the “first reading” of the Van Lierop farmland rezone.

What the FOP PAC is doing is: bashing John Palmer and any candidate who might stand in the way of unfettered warehouse development on valley farmland. Palmer has been Puyallup’s champion in this regard, challenging Republican Pierce County Council decisions to wave environmental impact statement and infrastructure requirements to handle the 1,750 extra DAILY semi-trucks the developers expect to produce by the warehouses (see ninth paragraph of linked summary) clogging our already clogged roads.

That’s something no Puyallup voter will support if they realize what’s REALLY on the ballot when we select city council candidates this fall. In their polling, F.O.P. will not mention warehouses in any regard, because they know how unpopular they are. The polling will be smoke and mirrors designed to promote their puppet candidates, the ones seen splashed across their Facebook page.

* Our information shows the original sale at $2.25 million, and the resale was at $9/sf for 23 acres (43,560 sf/acre) so over $9 million. The Pierce County Assessor’s website is not updated with the sale dates and prices. If a reader can find original source information, please email us with that for blog update.

2 thoughts on “Sad Legacy of the Van Lierop Rezone: Turns Out John Palmer & Heather Shadko Were Right”

  1. 1. It was actually a 4-2 decision by the lame duck council. Boyle had resigned his seat and it was not filled.

    2. Whoever named the park after Van Lierop insulted the public twice over. Van Lierop created this mess and to be awarded the naming is plain wrong. Rename it after someone worthy, like Dixey.

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