The Tehaleh planned community near Bonney Lake dominated the conversation at the Sep. 17 meeting of the Pierce County Council. Fittingly, it was an in-district evening meeting held at Tehaleh Heights Elementary School, the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District’s eighth elementary school that opened in September 2018 to accommodate the growing number of students.

Scott Jones, senior vice president and division manager of Newland Communities, the

company developing Tehaleh was on hand to provide an update on the project.

“I understand this an endeavor to take this show on the road, and we really appreciate you taking the opportunity to come out to Tehaleh and see the place and meet some of the folks that live here,” Jones said.

Over the next 20 years, plans call for Tehaleh to grow to become a 4,700-acre mixed-use planned community of between 25,000 and 30,000 people within Pierce County’s Urban Growth Area. When completed, Tehaleh will feature more than 1,800 acres of parks, trails and open spaces, and up to 9,700 homes and 475 acres dedicated to employment uses.

More than 1,700 houses have been sold as of Sept. 1, Jones said, with Tehaleh already home to more than 5,300 residents, 35-plus businesses, two elementary schools and 11 parks with more than 20 miles of trails. That translates into an annual county-wide impact of $200 million, Jones stated.

That kind of demand can create traffic congestion, which Jones addressed during his presentation, noting a two-lane road to get in and out of the community is being expanded to four lanes. The next phase of development includes transportation improvement such as a new road connecting Falling Water Boulevard E. to McCutcheon Road E., creating easier access from State Route 162 and the South Hill area. Newland Communities also is responsible for SR 162 improvements.

What has become the largest planned community in Washington state – Tehaleh could surpass Bonney Lake and the city of Sumner in size in just a few more years – actually got its start more than 30 years ago when developers bought the nearly 5,000 acres for Tehaleh from Weyerhaeuser, but homes just started being built there in 2011.

“Right now, this year I think one out of every three homes being built in Pierce

County will be built in Tehaleh,” Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeir said.

Council members appeared impressed with the massive planned community.

“This will be the model,” Pam Roach said.

“You’re not just building homes here,” Marty Campbell said. “You’re building communities.”

In other business, the council passed Proposal No. R2019-119, setting the date for a Pierce County Council meeting in District 5: 6 p.m., Oct. 1, at the Mid-County Community Center in Tacoma. Pierce County Council District 5 includes Tacoma’s Eastside, South End and unincorporated neighborhoods running to Parkland, Spanaway, Midland and Summit.