THURSTON COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION HOLDS PUBLIC HEARING ON COMPREHENSIVE PLAN
Last night, the Thurston County Planning Commission held a public hearing on the Annual Thurston County Comprehensive Plan Amendments.
Several letters were received as well as public testimony. The public testimony only concerned Yelm’s Traffic Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan. The Thurston Planning Commission noted that all of the public comments received about Yelm were negative.
After hearing from the public, the Thurston County Planning Commission asked Yelm Community Development Director Grant Beck to step up to answer questions. Key amongst those were:
1. The City of Yelm has specified level of service (LOS) F in the Comp. Plan since 1995?
2. The concurrency mark was set in 1998 where LOS D is the Regional Plan and must be followed. What steps have been taken to get roads to LOS D since 1998?
Beck: The Yelm Loop (Bypass) & the inner Loop (side connector streets)
3. The Bypass is not funded, so let’s eliminate that from the discussion.
Beck: It’s out of our control as the largest amount of traffic, 63% comes from outside of the city and its UGA.
Commissioners: We want to see your surveys on the 63% coming from the county and will examine traffic from SE Thurston & Pierce Counties impacting Yelm’s arteries, as well, as we are responsible for and need to know what that impact is.
4. So outside of the Loop, nothing has been done to bring LOS down to level D?
Beck: Fumbles on that one.
5. If traffic is out of your control in the City, then why are you still issuing building permits, and to 500 home developments and larger, asked Chris Lane?
Beck: Fumbles again.
6. About the issue of the unfunded Bypass used to mitigate traffic, how much is unfunded.
Beck: about 30 million. We have received $1 million from the government & $33 million for right-of-way acquisition and are working on getting the rest of the funding package next year.
HMMM! That is most interesting, as Mr. Beck has not read the WSDOT update on the Yelm Bypass, which has now moved the funding requirements to $92 million with $56 million unfunded, a $25 million shortfall reported by Mr. Beck to the County Planning Commission.
7. When do you expect construction to start on the Bypass?
Beck: with funding next year, then 2009
Commissioners: and length of construction?
Beck: 2 years
Commissioners: then you expect in 2011 this road will be operational, which is a full 13 years after the concurrency mark was set in 1998. You should have not been using an unfunded Bypass this long to determine mitigation allowing you to continue to approve large developments.
Once again, if only Mr. Beck had read the WSDOT report on this road so vital to this town, he could have quoted,
“The purchase of Right of way is underway and will continue through 2011.
The construction phase is not currently funded.”
Bottom line: another fumble, as the Yelm Bypass can not possibly be open before 2013 even if funded next year.
8. Why was staff (Thurston County) supporting the Yelm plan.
County Staffer Swenson: Yelm did not have a policy change or a text change.
Chris Lane moved and Tom Cole seconded the motion to NOT move forward in approving Yelm’s Transportation & Introduction Chapter updates that would have sent them on to the Board of County Commissioners.
Mr. Lane commented he is a Realtor, although a commercial Realtor, yet he is for responsible development.
He said, “It’s irresponsible if we don’t look at this. It’s irresponsible to add to the problem when you can’t deal with it (Yelm’s traffic) now.”
The citizens of Yelm got someone else besides Yelm’s Planners to look into Yelm’s traffic problems.
The Thurston County Planning Commission requested traffic analysis and other documents from Yelm to continue to study this, and before making a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners.
Last week in his editorial, NVN editor/publisher Keven Graves stated,
“It’s very easy to stand on the sidelines and carp at city officials about the traffic – a problem that stems from tremendous growth that nobody could have foreseen or planned for decades ago.
Rather than being goaded into pointing fingers and complaining, now is a good time to acknowledge the strides that the city has made, and support the work planned to help alleviate the community’s traffic woes.”
Mr. Graves, now an entity outside of the Yelm cabal has now publicly looked at Yelm’s Comp. Plan and stated,
“It’s irresponsible to add to the problem when you can’t deal with it (Yelm’s traffic) now.”
Further said in open forum,
The City of Yelm has specified level of service (LOS) F in the Comp. Plan since 1995, and the concurrency mark was set in 1998, where LOS D is the Regional Plan and must be followed. Outside of a few connector streets and relying on an unfunded Bypass, little has been done here to achieve concurrency, in almost 10 years, all the while approving mega-developments and accepting applications for more. “All of this problem that stems from tremendous growth [WAS] foreseen” by the public, who have commented on this for years and got little to no response. Now, a County Planning Commissioner has labeled Yelm’s actions since 1998 “irresponsible”.
THE LIGHTS ARE BEING SHINED ON YELM’S TRAFFIC MESS NOW – BY THE COUNTY!