Glen Cunningham, Planning Commission Chair called the meeting to order at 6:30pm. on Monday, August 21st & clearly did not know how to handle the protocols of this meeting and asked staff for assistance several times. Besides city staff, the only people in audience were new City Councilman Hendrickson, Yael & Steve Klein, Cindy Teixeira of the Nisqually Valley News (NVN), Jean Handley and only 2 others. This writer raised these issues on the record:
1. According to the WA. State DOT website, the Y3 Loop will not begin construction until 2013 subject to funding, with the first cars to use it a decade away. I requested the Comprehensive Plan be updated to note that all traffic studies include and traffic mitigation explained that a Y3 Loop will not operational for 10 years, instead of the way it currently is — where the Y3 Bypass is used to support all traffic issues here. Such is not the case & that that needs to be updated immediately to give a more accurate portrayal of the traffic situation here for planning purposes.
2. The Comprehensive Plan should have a separate section dealing with shallow groundwater hazards. Two specific areas that were impacted were the properties immediately downstream from the proposed Wal-Mart site and the area upstream from the Hawks Landing Subdivision and the new Ridgeline School. This past winter required that City of Yelm staff deal with a number of high groundwater and drainage issues. The present approach for handling shallow groundwater rise was totally inadequate. The Comprehensive Plan needs to be updated to reflect this.
3. Developer’s Impact Fees are going to have to be dealt with in Yelm as they are in other areas, providing a quote from the Tacoma News Tribune article of August 20, 2006. Further, Rep. Tom Campbell sat in this very chamber on Saturday, April 29, 2006 and stated publicly in his Town Hall Meeting that the traffic numbers the City of Yelm used for the Wal-Mart project were skewered downward and differ from the numbers supplied to him by State Highway officials.
The only other public comment was from Jean Handley who stated that the 6-year concurrence stats in Chapter 14 of the Comp Plan for the Y3 Loop are not clear in that the goal-posts of that 6-year period is moved continually or not stated at all. She stated that Rep. Campbell told her that if there is a winter storm, earthquake and/or major issue requiring the State of WA. to pony up money for the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the 520 floating bridge or I-5, the money will be taken away from Y-3 and the Loop will not be funded – that info. needs to be in the Comp Plan, too.
Cindy Teixeira of the NVN asked:
“Is it true that the City of Yelm charges developers impact fees of developers now, Mr. Beck?”
“Would you say these fees are fair & in alignment with city requirements?”
Kathy McCormick, the City’s Comp Plan contracted adviser from Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) comes to the podium and interjects that the Yelm Comp Plan Traffic Section will be amended after the Thurston Regional Planning Commission (TRPC) holds their Comp Plan Public Hearing on Sept. 20th and both the County & Yelm update their plans in conjunction with each other, in “about a year” or so. HMMM!
This writer called Cindy of the NVN to say I wished to add the following information to provide a more detailed report to the NVN readers and Planning Commission as to my Impact Fee comment. Here are my emailed remarks, from doing more homework after the Hearing, which were provided to the NVN, the Planning Commission, City Development Diector Beck and now for you, the public:
1. Developer’s impact fees imposed by the City of Yelm are handled through a fixed impact fee of $750 per PM Peak Trip per each development. This approach would be reasonable if the existing infrastructure load were exactly the same for all development environments. Such is not the case. Per the Yelm Transportation Comprehensive Plan, the Yelm System is in a state of overload with intersections already designated as Level of Service F (lowest grade possible). As the existing Yelm Road Infrastructure is progressively more overloaded, the relative impact increases exponentially. This is why the Wal-Mart Traffic Studies had to rely on the Y3 Loop to achieve compliance with operating standards. Wal-Mart was assessed something over $400,000 in traffic impact fees based on a PM Peak Trip estimate of about 550. This may cover the inside Yelm improvements, but does not include the value of their reliance on the Y3 Loop in the Traffic Studies. If you assume that the Y3 Loop will accommodate 25,000 trips (Average Daily Traffic High Estimate) and that about 25% of the 8000 trips (ADT) generated by Wal-Mart use the Y3, then Wal-Mart may be calculated to use 8% of the Y3 capacity. At a total cost of $70,000,000, the Wal-Mart prorate share of the Y3 should then be $5.6 million. Wal-Mart is being permitted to cash in on road development paid for by Washington State residents with no reimbursement to the State residents. Until Y3 is competed (Wa. DOT estimated CONSTRUCTION START = 2013, from their website), the City of Yelm will be forced to deal with the additional traffic and accommodate the interim adverse impacts from their taxpayer-supported coffers at some point for intra-city road expansion to add more vehicle capacity.
Bottom line: For example, the City (not Wal-Mart) will end up paying for road widening to Yelm Hwy. between the Wal-Mart site and Five Corners in the near future to add capacity because of Wal-Mart generated traffic.
2. The existing connector roads serving as ingress/egress for the Tahoma Terra development are substandard for the projected volume of traffic this subdivision will require, and that they convey to State Hwy 510 (Yelm Ave. West). As a result, these roadways have to be brought up to standards to safely handle that traffic. The required upgrade is prompted by the new subdivision. Hence, the developer should be responsible for bringing city streets (i.e. the two routes serving the subdivision and the Killion intersection with Yelm Ave. West) up to standards. In nearly every other local jurisdiction (Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Thurston County) the full cost of such roadway access improvements would be borne by the subdivision developer as a mitigation fee. The fixed impact fees assessed by Yelm, which should be about $560,000, apparently do not cover the required improvements. Rather than increase the assessment to the developer, it seems that the City has seen fit to shift the extra cost burden on to the local residents that live along the roads to be improved through the development of an LID. It seems clear that again the developer has been allowed to pass on their responsibility to the taxpayer to fund road improvements and in particular, a LID specifically requested of the City by said developer.
I believe these clarifications need to be made to provide a complete context for my remarks about impact fees for the Planning Commission, the public & NVN readers in a story that Ms. Teixeira will write for this weeks newspaper.