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Should Downtown Puyallup Grow Taller?

The Puyallup Planning Commission is considering zoning changes in the downtown core, which could allow for taller buildings. Do you think it’s a good idea?

Downtown Puyallup's iconic look embraces the area's history, and city leaders are currently debating how to preserve its small-town charm while meeting its modern needs. 

The Puyallup Planning Commission has been asked to examine building heights and aesthetics in the downtown core and get community feedback on what residents would like to see.

“Downtown Puyallup really is the focal point of the community—it’s small and historic,” said development services director Tom Utterback during a Nov. 7 open house on downtown zoning. “The city’s comprehensive plan says downtown should provide a mix of retail, residential housing and protection of history, while maintaining its walkability.”

The city’s comprehensive plan doesn’t mandate building height in its zoning, said Utterback, and that’s something the mayor and city council would like to explore. So, the Planning Commission has been tasked with exploring different aesthetics for downtown and if any new regulations in look and relation to other buildings should come in to play.

The tallest buildings downtown surround Pioneer Park—the tallest being City Hall with five stories.

The question is, do residents like that building height and should they be replicated down S. Meridian?

Four Emerald Ridge seniors who attended the open house thought that smaller buildings seemed “friendlier,” and while historic buildings have character, that doesn’t mean they are valuable. The students attended the zoning meeting as part of a civic observation class requirement.

“Walking downtown is easier, and I like the awnings on the buildings,” said 17-year-old Emerald Ridge student Meagan Taylor.

Fellow student Jeremiah Goist said that preserving downtown Puyallup’s character is important because otherwise it starts looking like South Hill, which is something none of the students at the open house wanted.

“Downtown is quaint. When you think of Puyallup, do you think of South Hill? No. South Hill doesn’t feel like a ‘town,’” said fellow senior Morgan Perry. “Development should mimic what’s here.”

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The Puyallup Planning Commission has posted the downtown zoning options online and attached a survey for community members to post their thoughts. You can find that survey here. This survey will be open through this week. Then, the planning commission will compile and discuss the results and present a recommendation to the city council for review some time next year.

Do you think buildings downtown should be taller? Tell us in the comments. 

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