I was sitting here contemplating so many issues raised on this blog I have observed in the last year with our town, I just had to put them down on paper and share them with all of you. While these WILL sound redundant, I believe many area residents are beginning to see what has been warned to City of Yelm officials about their acceptance of unbridled growth, now showing consequences.
WATER & FLOODING
1. SHALLOW GROUNDWATER HAZARDS & RELATED FLOODING NOT ADDRESSED; SHUTS CITY WELL
I wrote a warning to the City Council about the high groundwater issues in a letter published in the NVN on September 8, 2006 after my public comments were disputed at the Yelm Planning Commission meeting of August 25, 2006 where I stated:
“B. Incorporate a separate section [in the Comprehensive Plan Update] dealing with shallow groundwater hazards and related flooding. The City of Yelm staff dealt with a number of high groundwater and drainage issues with last years heavy rains. These rains are showing themselves to be more frequent than originally estimated. The present approach for handling shallow groundwater rise has been totally inadequate.last summer.”
Now, the January 19 NVN says:
A third well is available for emergencies, but the water supply must be treated in a special fashion because it is “under the influence of surface water,” said Tim Peterson, Yelm Public Works director.
Isn’t that interesting! This well and its aquifer are just downstream from Wal-Marts surface conditions with soon-to-be daily traffic pollution dripping oil & fuel runoff from their proposed volume of vehicles and these high groundwater & drainage issues issues were raised last year.
No action by city. Extensive flooding, in particular in Thompson Creek, Yelm Creek and the high ground-water areas surrounding Wal-Mart.
2. YELM OFFICIALS TAKE A “BYE” ON THOMPSON CREEK FLOODING PRESENTATION IN STATE SPONSORED MEETING
Thompson Creek flooding issues have have been progressing now for years resulting in so many comments received by the Washington State Dept. of Ecology that they called a meeting with all associated agencies about this issue.
Ed Wiltsie, PE outlined groundwater issues at the October 24, 2006 Council Meeting, as well, which raised several questions, in particular about his findings that 3 culverts under SR 507 by Hawk’s Landing have been covered by the developers, impeding water flow that caused flooding last year, raised again at this meeting.
Bill Hashim a Yelm resident & Dept. of Ecology official also made a presentation on water quality, which he has presented previously on several occasions to the Yelm City Council.
The NVN reports on February 2, 2007, “McMurry [Key McMurry of WA. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife] expressed dismay that Beck [Yelm Development Director Grant Beck] did not give a presentation as was listed on the agenda, but Beck said he had to ask twice for an agenda and when he learned the city was listed, he inquired via email to Ferrell about what was expected. ‘I really can’t speak as to the participation by the City of Yelm,’ Ferrell’s email stated.”
Everyone at this meeting knew this was called to discuss Thompson Creek issues, in particular those caused by Tahoma Terra developers and Yelm officials would address the creek’s issues within their jurisdiction.
I was at this meeting and witnessed Mr. Beck declining to make a presentation or answering questions. When asked about his silence by his official colleagues, he deferred to the Tahoma Terra developer’s representative.
No response from the City of Yelm.
1. YELM TRAFFIC SUGGESTIONS BY PROFESSIONAL ENGINEER IGNORED
Ed Wiltsie, PE was the only speaker to make a public comment at the Oct. 24, 2006 City Council meeting regarding Ordinance 858 amending the Yelm Comprehensive Plan regarding traffic. Even the city’s own Development Director, Grant Beck stated in his staff report to the Council that evening: “The City Council should carefully consider the points raised by Mr. Wiltsie in which he indicates that the establishment of a level of service F in the downtown core is not being used as intended by the 2001 Comprehensive Transportation Plan as adopted by the Yelm Planning Commission and the Yelm City Council, as the intention of the City Council is ultimately determined by the City Council. If the Council’s intention is correctly expressed by Mr. Wiltsie’s comments, it should clarify that for the record.” Yet, the City approved the Comprehensive Plan revisions unanimously anyway. While the respect and admiration was noted from the City Council towards Mr. Wiltsie and his report, not one member of the City Council raised their hand to say they would like to table the adoption of Ordinance 858 amending the Yelm Comprehensive Plan and do further research regarding Mr. Wiltsie’s comments.
2. CITY SAYS THIS CENTER TURN LANE ADEQUATE, FUTURE YELM TRAFFIC ISSUES NOT ADDRESSED
The Yelm Loop estimated construction date is still to begin in 2013, with an opening two years later, subject to funding ,according to the DOT website. The City of Yelm is adding a LID sponsored center-turn-lane yet will still have only one lane in and one lane out of town. A new Steven’s Street connector and a Tahoma Terra access road will dump many daily car trips onto Yelm Ave. West this year. With a road mostly in gridlock many afternoons already, what is the City going to do in 3, 5, 10 years about the traffic on Yelm Ave West? No action planned.
3. CITY WILL BE WIDENING YELM AVE EAST IN A FEW YEARS WITH NO EXPENSE TO WAL-MART AS CAUSE
I stated on September 8, 2006 in a letter published in the NVN:
“Developers…impact/mitigation fees were a good idea and I applaud the City of Yelm for embracing them in 1995. However the City was following the general trends of area jurisdictions and the process has not been updated here since that 1995 adoption…The City taxpayer (not Wal-Mart) will end up paying for road widening of Yelm Hwy and continuing streets construction to accommodate Wal-Mart generated traffic, since those vehicles will have no Y3 Loop for years and be forced onto city streets. The city mitigation fees did not require Wal-Mart to cover this condition adequately.” Yet, the city says fees are adequate with no action planned. Yelm taxpayer will pay.
DEVELOPERS AND CITY VERY COZY
1. THURSTON HIGHLANDS ASSOCIATES EIS FUNDING FRONTED BY CITY OF YELM TAXPAYER
Yelms City Council has stated public funds will not be used in private for-profit developments. Yet, quoting City Administrator Shelley Badger in the January 19 NVN, “It’s after the EIS ‘when it will be determined how much they have to pay.'” This means the city is fronting the money for the privately held Thurston Highlands Associates. Is this preferential treatment?
Would the city fund an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for you, me or any other developer, then determine payment AFTER the EIS?
Will the public be repaid interest on loaning money for Thurston Highlands EIS?
These questions not addressed.
2. ARE THURSTON HIGHLANDS ASSOCIATES INTERACTIONS BY CITY OFFICIALS PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT?
The NVN reported in its January 19 and 26 editions about Yelm Mayor Ron Harding turning over the first blade of dirt in the new Tahoma Valley Golf Clubhouse owned by Thurston Highlands Associates Steve Chamberlain and Doug Bloom, also featured in the February Yelm Chamber Prairie Viewpoint. Yet in the January 19 NVN, The owners of the golf course, also the developers of Tahoma Terra and Thurston Highlands, offered to give the city water rights if half of the available water could be used for the Tahoma Terra development.
Now, Thurston Highlands owners are working with the City of Yelm to exchange water rights, get approval for the Thurston Highlands development, Tahoma Terra issues, the City of Yelm is fronting funds for the Thurston Highlands EIS and now the Mayor does the groundbreaking for the Thurston Associates owned Tahoma Valley Clubhouse. Couldn’t the Mayor turn over those duties to the Yelm Chamber President or some other city luminary like Larry Schorno or recently retired Thurston County Sheriff Edwards? And now a very nice donation to the Mayor’s Scholarship Fund by Thurston Highlands Associates owner Bloom. Couldn’t Mr. Bloom have made an individual scholarship donation in the name of the “Doug Bloom Scholarship” instead of via the Mayor’s Fund? In his position, the mayor will be required to represent all constituents and perhaps comment on the Thurston Highlands application, Tahoma Tera construction & creek flooding, Tahoma Valley Golf water rights exchange and the EIS. I know everyone will all say they see no conflict of interest, yet any observer would have to say HMMM! Surely seems Thurston Highlands Associates and city officials’ interactions are getting very, very cozy, indeed! Is there some preferential treatment going on?
Is Yelm soon to be known only as the “car-strangled spanner” connecting Spanaway and Lacey thanks to city officials allowing developers to impact our town?
The City of Yelm residents’ silence on these issues comes at a price.
IT’S ABOUT THE TOWN’S FUTURE!
What say you?