Edgewood residents celebrate incorporation on February 28, 1996.

  • By Linda Holden Givens
  • Posted 2/27/2019
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 20252

On February 28, 1996, the residents of Edgewood celebrate the official incorporation of their city. The vote to incorporate took place on March 14, 1995, with 1,848 in favor of becoming a city to 1,691 against. The new city will be run by a council-manager form of government, with the initial city officials elected on September 19, 1995, and sworn in on October 5, 1995. Terrill Faherty (b. 1943) is the first mayor. Edgewood is located in northern Pierce County neighboring the cities of Milton, Puyallup, and Sumner. Over the next 20 years Edgewood will grow to become the ninth-largest city in Pierce County while maintaining its rural heritage.

The Path to Cityhood

Edgewood was first platted on October 10, 1883. It was not incorporated as a city until more than 100 years later. The path to Edgewood's incorporation proved to be somewhat bumpy. Since 1984, Edgewood area citizens, and property owners had requested the Pierce County Council and county executives through letters, phone calls, meetings, and petitions to adopt an updated land-use plan for the rural community. A letter and petition initiated by area residents and dated November 22, 1988, was submitted to Pierce County Council. By 1989 the North Hill Facilitating Committee was formed consisting of five community members: Donald Borst, Alan Engberg, Dale Mitchell, Donna Sorensen, and Howard Yeager. The committee facilitated workshops collecting and compiling results into one document called the North Hill Community Plan Summary Document, working closely with Pierce County staff. Nearly $60,000 was spent from 1987 through 1990 to develop the North Hill Community Plan describing the community, with the goal of accepting some growth while remaining rural in the future. The document was officially reviewed and approved on January 31, 1990.

On February 19, 1991, the Pierce County Council adopted the North Hill Community Plan as part of the Pierce County Generalized Comprehensive Plan (originally approved on April 2, 1962). This long awaited achievement marked a significant step for the Edgewood community taking control of its future and enjoying having an identity of its own. In November 1993, the North Hill Community Association in a meeting asked citizens if they want their area to become a city. Community members collected and compiled material and filed a Notice of Intent for Incorporation of Edgewood on January 19, 1994, with the Pierce County Boundary Review Board.

A week later on January 26, the Cityhood for Edgewood Committee, an offshoot of the North Hill Community Association, presented options to the board and the community. The cityhood committee filed a petition on January 28, 1994, with the Boundary Review Board, proposing the incorporation of the city to be known as the City of Edgewood, with a council-manager form of government, and the board approved the petition on July 12, 1994. On August 10, 1994, the City of Milton filed a petition in Pierce County Superior Court challenging the Pierce County Boundary Review Board decision to approve the incorporation petition. Milton officials wanted the land proposed to be incorporated as Edgewood for future growth of their city.

The Pierce County Superior Court agreed with the Boundary Review Board's decision on December 30, 1994, recommending approval of the petition for incorporation of Edgewood. A special election was held on March 14, 1995, for voters to approve or reject the proposed incorporation. The final tally was 1,898 votes (52.88 percent) in favor of incorporation and 1,691 (47.12 percent) against.

On September 19, 1995, Edgewood voters elected the seven members of the first city council: Daniel Burgess, Rose Hill, Larry Mock, Eric Paige, Sandy Schultz, John Powers, and Terrill "Terry" Dion Faherty. Powers was chosen as deputy mayor and Faherty, who served in the U.S. Army in the 1970s as a lieutenant, as mayor. Nacelle J. Heuslein was named City Clerk and Steve Anderson became the first City Manager.

A swearing-in ceremony and reception for the first Edgewood City Council was held on Thursday, October 5, 1995, at 7 p.m. in Edgemont Junior High School at 10909 24th Avenue E. More than 100 people from Edgewood and surrounding areas joined the new officials for the event, which included music, speeches, and the swearing-in.

The new council got to work on an interim basis even before Edgewood's incorporation became official. Indeed, one of the council's first tasks was to set the official date of incorporation, and it did so in a resolution passed on November 2, declaring "Whereas, because of the timing of municipal revenues, it would be advantageous for the City to establish the 28th day of February, 1996 as the Official Date of Incorporation of the City," the incorporation would become official at 12:01 a.m. on that date.

"Milestone for a Community"

Thus on Wednesday, February 28, 1996, at one minute after midnight, Edgewood officially became a city. In the Tacoma News Tribune Elaine Lewis, an early cityhood campaigner, said:

"Official incorporation is a milestone for a community that might have been annexed into Milton, Sumner or Puyallup. It's self-determination. This is what the community wanted" ("Edgewood Celebrates Cityhood ...").

Road signs were posted publicizing the existence of Edgewood throughout the day. City Manager Steve Anderson said:

"It will be a good day. A lot of people worked very hard to make this happen" ("Edgewood Celebrates Cityhood ...").

The Edgemont Junior High School again opened its doors for an estimated 150 enthusiastic guests eagerly waiting to celebrate the incorporation of the City of Edgewood at 7 p.m. As they made their way inside the school they were greeted by the new council members at the door, and a guest book was set up for them to sign as they entered. Decorative balloons; a food table with refreshments, snacks, a cake in the shape of Edgewood, punch, and coffee; and door prizes surrounded the entrance. Buttons were handed out to everyone by Edgemont students. The Junior High Jazz Band performed music that filled the room with joy and enthusiasm.

In front of flashing cameras, council member Larry Mock welcomed everyone and introduced the scout troops who marched in with flags, saluted and pledged. Donald "Don" Reese, pastor of Mountain View Lutheran Church, gave the invocation prayer. Terrill Faherty introduced the staff and new council members and acknowledged special guests, dignitaries, and the oldest Edgewood resident -- Stella Jorgensen (1906-2004).

The history of Edgewood was shared by Elaine Lewis. Appreciation was given to all the volunteers and transition team who worked hard to make the event happen. A plaque commemorating the Edgewood founders was presented by the Founders Club. Pastor Carl J. Linden (b. 1939) from Jovita Baptist Church performed the benediction. Pianist Mariam F. Moore played the inspirational song "Climb Every Mountain." Milton city officials were invited to the ceremony.

The City of Edgewood had built up its new government even as its legal battle with the City of Milton continued. Even as Edgewood residents celebrated the incorporation, a cloud still lingered over the new city. On June 6, 1996, the Washington Supreme Court rejected the City of Milton's challenge to Edgewood's incorporation, bringing to an end the legal dispute that had begun back in August 1994. In the Tacoma News Tribune, Edgewood City Council member Dan Burgess said of the ruling:

"I think it's wonderful. I would like to say to the Milton council and Leonard Sanderson, mayor that it's time to become a neighbor rather than an adversary" ("Edgewood Wins Final ...").


Edgewood City Council Resolution No. 95-15, "A resolution ... establishing the official date of incorporation for the City of Edgewood as February 28, 1998," November 2, 1995; Pierce County Council Resolution No. R95-41, "A resolution of the Pierce County Council notifying the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer that the City of Edgewood has been authorized to be incorporated ...," available at Pierce County website accessed January 15, 2019 (https://online.co.pierce.wa.us/cfapps/council/model/otDocDownload.cfm?id=1368731&fileName=R95-41%20final%20Res%20file%201.pdf); Pierce County Council Resolution No. R95-42, "A resolution ... calling for a primary election ...," March 28, 1995, available at Pierce County website accessed January 15, 2019 (https://online.co.pierce.wa.us/cfapps/council/model/otDocDownload.cfm?id=1368732&fileName=R95-42%20final%20Res%20file%201.pdf); Pierce County Council Resolution No. R89-154, ""A resolution ... approving the work program ... for use ... in the formulation of a community plan for the North Hill area," available at Pierce County website accessed January 15, 2019 (https://online.co.pierce.wa.us/cfapps/council/model/otDocDownload.cfm?id=1362764&fileName=R89-154%20final%20Res%20file%201.pdf); Pierce County Ordinance No. 90-167, "An ordinance ... amending the Pierce County Generalized Comprehensive Plan (1962), by adopting the 'North Hill Community Plan ...'," February 19, 1991, available at Pierce County website accessed January 15, 2019 (https://online.co.pierce.wa.us/cfapps/council/model/otDocDownload.cfm?id=1360505&fileName=90-167%20final%20Ord%20file%201.pdf); RCW 36.70A.140 ("Comprehensive Plans -- Ensure Public Participation), available at Washington State Legislature website (https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=36.70A.140); Anthony K. Albert, "North Hill Group Seeks a Voice in Future of Area," Tacoma News Tribune, August 18, 1993, p. 1; Anthony K. Albert, "North Hill Faces Cityhood Question -- Leaders Fear for Community Future," Tacoma News Tribune, December 29, 1993, p. B-6; Anthony K. Albert, "Edgewood Anxious About Crucial Options," Tacoma News Tribune, January 26, 1994, p. B-4; Martha Brockenbrough, "Edgewood Push for Cityhood Clears Appeal," Tacoma News Tribune, December 23, 1994, p. B-1; Lyn Watts, "Edgewood Council Prepares to Work -- Swearing-In Ceremony to Be Thursday," Tacoma News Tribune, October 4, 1995, p. B-6; Rob Tucker, "Milton Asks Court to Freeze Edgewood City," Tacoma News Tribune, October 14, 1995, p. B-1; Paul Chavez, "Position 7: Edgewood Candidates Offer Views on Issues," Tacoma News Tribune, September 6, 1995, p. B-8; Rob Tucker, "Edgewood Celebrates Cityhood, Too, But Lawsuit Lingers," Tacoma News Tribune, February 28, 1996, p. A-1; Rob Tucker, "Edgewood Wins Final Cityhood Challenge -- State High Court Refuses to Hear Appeal by Milton," Tacoma News Tribune, June 7, 1996, p. B-1; "Pierce County Returns," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 20, 1995, p. 10; Joe Mooney, "Two Newest Cities to Select Councils," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 14, 1995, p. B-5; Edgewood Municipal Government, City Clerk Pre-Incorporation Working Files: General Admin to Public Safety 1994-1996, Box 1, B14 F2, Washington State Archives Puget Sound Regional Branch, Bellevue, Washington.

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