Enumclaw: trying to retain original charm while building booms

Have you noticed all the building going on in Enumclaw? If you’ve driven down Semanski Street north of the high school or if you’ve been down 244th or if you’ve driven east of Safeway, you’ll know that Enumclaw is growing.

A few people have shared their concern with me that all this growth is bad for the city, that it’s going to destroy our charm. There’s a deeper, longer perspective that needs to be shared about this growth.

I served on the Enumclaw City Council from January 2008 to December 2011. During that time several areas were annexed into the city. The Growth Management Act requires all cities to create a Comprehensive Plan. It was last updated in 2016, just three years ago.

There are limitations on how big Enumclaw can grow because development rights for much of the area have been purchased by King County to protect rural areas. I know. I pushed for farmland preservation when I lived on acreage south of town in the 1980s.

Enumclaw has only so much room to expand.

Between 1995 and 2008 the Enumclaw City Council passed a moratorium on building due to a lack of water and sewer treatment capacity. The problem was alleviated with the completion of the wastewater treatment plant located east of Enumclaw High School. The Great Recession, which began in 2007, caused an economic building moratorium in Enumclaw lasting until late 2014. So, for 19 years, Enumclaw barely grew.

In fact, for a time its population actually shrank slightly.

The reason for the recent building boom is partially due to pent-up demand. Because of the recent home construction, sewer rates have actually decreased. That’s good because it means more money in our pockets. That was the original plan after the completion of the treatment plant in November 2008, but it took until the last few years to see that plan actually occur.

I did some research on the building developments which show that much of the new construction we see going was approved as far back as 10 years ago. The Liberty Meadows preliminary plat (the southernmost area east of Flensted Estates) was approved in 2011. Just to the north of Liberty Meadows is Semanski Farms. This plat was approved in 2009. Just north of Semanski Farms is Semanski Estates, which was approved in 2018. There are 96 lots in these plats.

Meadow Park along 244th had its preliminary plat approved in 2011. Meadow Park Phase 1 has 24 lots. Phase 2 with 20 lots was given preliminary approval in 2016. Bella’s Meadow has 91 lots. There is a total of 135 lots in these developments.

To the east of Safeway is Suntop Division 3 which was approved in 2014. Suntop Divisions 4 and 5 were approved in 2017. In total, there are 291 lots in these plats.

In the area north of McHugh, there is the Dick Person Division with 10 lots, the Coopman subdivision on Warner with 27 lots, and 15 lots added on Watson Street, totaling 52 new residential lots.

Additionally, there has been some commercial construction you may or may not have noticed: the new TRM building on Garrett Street where The Use Again Store (Enumclaw Recyclers) just moved to; next to it there’s The Thunder Dome commercial car museum just finished in 2018.

MacDonald’s tore down its building and built a completely new one on the same site. Taco Bell is building a new restaurant near Starbucks on SR 410.

There has been a lot of construction in Enumclaw, but, if you look around in Bonney Lake, Buckley and Black Diamond, it’s part of a regional trend. We’re living in an area where economic growth is occurring. It’s thought that King County added about 2,724 per month to its population in 2017 (World Population Review.com), thanks in part to Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing and other employers.

All cities are changing. We’re not unique.

Change is coming to Enumclaw. The question for all of us is, how can we retain Enumclaw’s charm during these changes?

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