Key Peninsula plan clears Pierce County Council

A desire to preserve the Key Peninsula’s rural character while encouraging tourism over the next 20 years formed the basis of the community’s land-use plan, which the Pierce County Council approved Oct. 23.

When they began drafting the Key Peninsula Community Plan (ordinance 2007-75s) in 2004, residents sought to preserve the small-town feel of the 60-square-mile area in the northwest corner of Pierce County that includes Purdy and Key Center. Council Chair Terry Lee (District 7) said the 15-member Key Peninsula Community Planning Board accomplished its goal while still allowing for growth and economic development.

“A rural landscape and small-town feel are what drew most people to the Key Peninsula in the first place,” said Lee, who represents the area along with the Gig Harbor Peninsula, Fircrest and University Place. “On their own time, the planning board members spent years on a document that reflects the spirit and the challenges of their community, and they should be commended for their accomplishment.”

The Key Peninsula’s population grew by 3.1 percent a year since 1990 and now numbers nearly 17,000 residents. Coming growth prompted planning board members to act to save their community’s rural character; however, Lee said that same character has made it difficult to draw jobs and investment to the area.

To encourage tourism, the plan creates an entirely new county zoning designation to preserve present and future park lands. To maintain the community’s character, the plan also adds two zoning designations to protect surface waters, aquifers and wildlife, and to identify viable farmland that may not currently be zoned for such activity due to soil, parcel size or other specific criteria.

Pierce County’s comprehensive land-use plan allows communities to add their own unique plans as amendments. The Key Peninsula Community Plan is the eighth such amendment since the Comprehensive Plan’s passage in 1994.