A hint of economic recovery seen at Graham LUAC


In what may be just a whisper of good news of economic recovery, the Graham Land Use Advisory Commission (LUAC) met for the first time in over a year Tuesday night to hear a variance petition for a home-construction project.

 The hearing was requested by long-time Graham residents, Alan and Helen Kimmel, and their request brought a touch of feel-good family warmth to the meeting.

The Kimmels, who live in the Columbia Crest development at the top of Graham Hill, are in their 80s and want to build a home next door so that their grandkids, Jason and Trissa Utting, can provide daily care to the elders, and in return get started on home ownership.

However, the Kimmel’s lot – subdivided in the 1960s to the then-existing regulations – is now too small to comply with the newly enacted Graham Community Plan set-back requirements.  Hence, the need for a variance, and a contingent of private design consultants along with three planners from the Pierce County Planning and Land Services Department (PALS) to see the request through the system.

Specifically, the Kimmels are short only a foot on the side set-back, but 30 feet on the front setback, possessing just half of the now-required 60 feet.

However, PALS Associate Planner Trish Byers told the LUAC that the Kimmel’s variance would be in complete harmony with existing conditions throughout the neighborhood.  In short, few, if any of the homes in Columbia Crest would comply with current set-back standards if they were to be built today.  Coupled with that happenstance and the fact that the proposed construction site is on the uppermost portion of the sub-division and therefore not interfering with anyone’s spectacular view of Mount Rainier, Ms. Byers and her planning team recommended approval of the variance.

After a few questions and several cordial comments, the Graham LUAC voted to recommend approval of the variance.

“Welcome to the neighborhood,” LUAC commissioner Matt Hamilton told the Uttings, who were accompanied to the hearing by their construction consultant Pete Almond.

The Kimmel’s variance now goes before the County’s Hearing Examiner in a few weeks and approval there is expected, after which construction should commence quickly.  To whit:  the Uttings announced they are already shopping for kitchen appliances.

Note:  With the long hiatus from public hearings, the Graham LUAC needs new commissioners.  The Graham LUAC encompasses a huge swath of south County – over 70 square miles – and ranges from 176th St and South Hill in the north to 352nd St in the south, and stretches from Mountain Highway in the west to the Puyallup River and Orting in the east.  Individuals interested in joining the Commission should contact LUAC liaison Cindy Anderson at PALS, (253) 798-3178.

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