A Puyallup area businessman who took the city to court over water service could soon get the paperwork he's been fighting for for about seven years.
A Pierce County Superior Court judge on Friday ordered the City of Puyallup to provide Mike Stanzel with a water availability letter in 45 days. He needs the letter to build a game room with restrooms at his family recreation center in unincorporated north Puyallup. He petitioned the court in 2007 to get it after first approaching the city a few years before.
The city is the water service provider in the area.
Judge Thomas Larkin also awarded Stanzel about $16,700 in attorney fees for his appeal costs related to an action brought by the city in 2008. The city said Stanzel’s plans required more water than he’d led the court to believe.
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Larkin also dismissed that case. However, he opted not to sanction the city for bringing the action in the first place – which Stanzel had requested.
“I don’t find any bad faith in this case,” Larkin said.
Stanzel approached the city for the water letter in 2004 but was told he’d have to consent to annexation. Stanzel objected, and the matter went to a county hearing examiner, Superior Court and the state Court of Appeals.
Larkin in December found Stanzel to be the prevailing party in the 2008 action. The one initially brought by Stanzel still is active because he’s seeking damages.
Stanzel said after Friday’s hearing that he was disappointed the city wasn’t sanctioned. He said the long and costly legal battle could have been easily avoided.
“All (the city) had to do was sign a piece of paper and let me go about my business,” he said. “None of it makes any sense – why it even had to happen.”
Michael Walter, one of the attorneys representing Puyallup, said the city wanted Stanzel to follow the same rules as others. Despite the judge’s ruling that Stanzel is entitled to water, the city maintains that its code requires that people with property outside city limits consent to annexation in order to receive water.
“The city code is the city’s law,” he said. “It’s been applied to everybody else.”
He said the city hasn’t made a decision about an appeal.