Politics & Government

Forza CEO wants coffee shop to become part of Lakewood

Forza Coffee Company has expressed interest in annexing into the Lakewood city limits the coffee shop where four of its police officers were murdered a little over a year ago.

Brad Carpenter, the company’s founder and chief executive, said he would broach the idea when he meets today with the owner of the property on the 11400 block of Steele Street South in unincorporated Parkland.

He said the annexation would be symbolic of the kinship that has developed between the coffee shop and city in the wake of the worst attack on law enforcement in the state’s history on Nov. 29, 2009.

Maurice Clemmons killed Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, and officers Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Gregory Richards, 42, as they were at Forza preparing for their shift. Last week, around the first anniversary of the shootings, memorials were dedicated in front of the Lakewood Police Department and the coffee shop.

Carpenter had earlier run the idea past city leaders. After some preliminary research by staff, City Manager Andrew Neiditz said although he understands the symbolism, the city couldn’t pursue it without a formal request from the property owner.

The majority of Forza’s 24 locations are leased, including the shop on Steele Street in Parkland.

A common method for cities to annex land occurs when property owners representing at least 60 percent of the assessed value of the proposed area petition to be brought into their limits. Voters can also annex land through the election method.

The city is “sure as heck not going to go launching this thing if no one is asking for it,” said Lakewood Mayor Doug Richardson, whom Carpenter approached with the idea about six weeks ago.

That’s because the proposal could require significant city time to work through a bevy of issues.

The property is located about 400 feet south on Steele on the eastern corner of Lakewood’s city limits. It is located in Tacoma’s urban growth area, land designated for future urban development.

“We would have to get concurrence with the City of Tacoma that it would be OK to have a shared urban growth area boundary,” explained David Bugher, Lakewood’s community development director.

Pierce County also may have to give its blessing to the change, he said.

The site couldn’t be annexed as a single piece of property. Land-use planning policies frown on bringing in “islands” because they can create a jumbled patchwork that results in confusion over who plans and serves these areas as well as costly and inefficient extension of city utilities.

Officials would have to encourage other property owners to join in the effort. Creating a reasonable boundary could be tricky, Bugher said, because nearby parcels are oddly shaped and include wetlands.

“There are hiccups,” he said. “Believe me, this is not straightforward.”

Neither the city nor Carpenter has approached neighboring property owners to gauge their interest in the idea. Carpenter said he thought the Coca-Cola bottling plant behind the coffee shop would favor annexing because of the company’s work on the police officers’ memorial.

The Forza chief executive acknowledged he’s learning about the complexities of the annexation process and understands it may not work out.

Christian Hill: 253-274-7390 christian.hill@thenewstribune.com