January 31, 2008


The Thurston County Board of Commissioners approved the Yelm Comprehensive Plan.
Quoting Thurston County Associate Planner for Development Services Aimee Swenson,
“the Commissioners said there are no policy changes that are occurring [referring to Yelm’s Comprehensive Plan]. They approved the textural changes. Any legal appeal to this decision goes through the City of Yelm.”

Bottom line:
1. Yelm will still be allowed to grow with no constraints to adding housing which will add traffic here annually, unless the national housing slump dampens home sales here.
2. The Yelm Bypass is over a decade away if at all, so that cannot be relied on to relive traffic. Remember, Yelm’s Super Wal-Mart was approved here with the Yelm Bypass mitigating their traffic. That is folly.
3. There is no money from the State for any road projects, so look for more gridlock conditions on Yelm Ave. as more housing/business construction is completed.
4. Yelm is apt to be nothing more than a car-strangled spanner connecting southern Pierce & Thurston Counties in the days, weeks and years and decade ahead.
5. Many are on the record warning officials of impending traffic problems on the horizon here.

To recap the details leading up to this decision:

The Thurston County Board of Commissioners took testimony at a Public Hearing December 4, 2007 about the Yelm Comprehensive Plan Amendments, and specially the Transportation Chapter.
Chair Diane Oberquell opened that Hearing stating that the City of Yelm would have 10 minutes, followed by the attorney representing JZ Knight, then the public would have 3 minutes each, without repeating what was previously stated.
Representing the City of Yelm were talks by Assoc. City Planner Merriman, Community Development Director Beck, TRPC Rep. McCormick & Mayor Harding. Others in the audience supporting the city’s plan were newly appointed Yelm Planning Commission Chair Carlos Perez, City Council member John Thompson representing the entire Yelm City Council and Mike Edwards, Thurston County EDC Board member, large Yelm landowner and Yelm pioneer family descendant.
Several letters were received by the Commission and several public members spoke highlighting various aspects of Yelm’s traffic issues and city policies that do not address several aspects of roads, developmental approvals and traffic approaching gridlock status.
The Public Hearing lasted and hour.

The Board of Commissioners conducted Work Sessions on Dec. 12 and Dec. 18 to review amongst themselves all of the public input on the Comprehensive Plan.

The Thurston County Planning Commission conducted a Public Hearing on October 10, 2007 on the Yelm Comprehensive Plan and recommended to the Commissioners that the Plan NOT be approved.

January 30, 2008


“Two new Thurston County sites and one in Lewis County are being studied for a multimillion dollar rail logistics center. The sites are in addition to a Maytown site under consideration for the development by the ports of Tacoma and Olympia…

On Monday, Tacoma officials released a study of three other sites they consider workable for such a cargo facility, which has drawn strong opposition from hundreds of Maytown-area residents.

The ports will present their findings at a public meeting beginning at 6 Thursday night at the Worthington Center at Saint Martin’s University.

Final development sites under consideration are:

Maytown: A BNSF Railway track runs along the east side of the 745-acre site and Tacoma Rail tracks cross the property. The site, two miles east of Interstate 5, used to be a munitions plant and is permitted for gravel mining. It’s adjacent to property owned by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Beaver Creek is located along the southern border.

Offut Lake site: This site adjacent to the Maytown site consists of 847 acres in Thurston County on the west side of Offut Lake, which is surrounded by residential development, according to the study. A part of the site also is permitted for gravel mining. The site is about six miles from I-5 and near BNSF and Tacoma Rail tracks. The Deschutes River crosses the northern portion of the site.

Tenino site: About 1,057 acres in Thurston county. Some of the site also is permitted for gravel mining. The study notes that a ranch, a few homes and gravel pit structures border the site. It’s about 1 mile from BNSF tracks and 5.5 miles east of I-5. Scatter Creek borders the southern and eastern portions…

The ports want a cargo facility where they can transfer cargo from trucks to rail to avoid traffic tie-ups, and resulting delayed deliveries, on I-5 and other Western Washington highways. But Maytown-area residents have been concerned the project will reduce their property values, worsen traffic and air quality, threaten endangered wildlife and be noisy…

Regardless, a spokeswoman for upset Maytown-area residents known as Friends of Rocky Prairie said she was inclined to believe Tacoma was serious only about the Maytown site. If the Port of Tacoma was serious about other sites, opposition leader Sharron Coontz said it would not publicly have identified them to avoid the risk of causing land speculation that would raise the price of land…

At Maytown, county officials would have to grant a rezoning and variance to allow a cargo facility to be built more than a half mile from I-5. Coontz predicted results of the study will only increase opposition to the project. She estimated about 1,100 South Thurston County residents oppose the project.

‘We already have a huge united group,’ she said. ‘Threatening to move it a few miles will only increase our numbers and our strength,'” quoting The Olympian.

WHEN: This Thursday, Jan 31st 6-9 pm
Study Session followed by PUBLIC COMMENT!

WHERE: The Worthington Center at St. Martin’s College

January 29, 2008


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January 28, 2008


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January 27, 2008


The Honorable Ron Harding, Mayor of Yelm

The Pierce County Business Examiner reports in last week’s edition in a story titled:
“Yelm paves the way for retail growth”

Ed Notes:

All of this is very interesting and very ambitious.
International conglomerate Applebee’s Restaurants announced last week that they are withdrawing their plans to build in Yelm according to the current edition of the Nisqually Valley News,
“After submitting an application with the City of Yelm on June 14 to build an Applebees restaurant at the northwest corner of Yelm Avenue and Plaza Drive Northeast, Apple American Group has apparently backed out.

The company had already completed its first civil review with Yelms development department, but the .9 acre lot remains vacant.

According to Apple Americans application, the plan was to build a 6,000-square-foot restaurant with full site improvements, including a parking lot, driveway entrance, pedestrian sidewalks, storm drainage, sewer, water and irrigation facilities…

Sara Martin, of Bush Roed and Hitchings civil engineering group, agreed that comments on the civil review were likely not a factor in Applebees apparent decision not to build in Yelm.

‘That project is kind of dead right now,’ Martin said.

Martin explained that her company hasnt worked on the Yelm project for a while. Martin said she was told that Applebees decided not to build in Yelm because company officials have concerns about whether Yelm would have the clientele to support the business.”

The Applebee’s pullout follows on the heels of Walgreen’s deciding to scrap plans for a Yelm store at 5-Corners. And, Cincinnati-based Kroger pulled the plug and closed Yelm’s QFC grocery store last October leaving a huge empty store in Nisqually Plaza. All of these withdrawals have been since the Yelm Super Wal-Mart opened last Summer. Further, Toscano’s Italian Restaurant closed. The Wal-Mart Effect is alive and well in Yelm, as predicted.

Questions remain as to whether Yelm really has enough water to support all of the developments, as covered here last week with JZ Knight’s appeal of a hearing examiner’s ruling being upheld by the Yelm City Council. The WA. State Dept. of Ecology has yet to officially weigh in on Yelm’s Seattle-based attorney Richard Settle’s comment last week that “downplayed the value of an Aug. 20 letter from Tammy Hall, a hydrogeologist for the state Department of Ecology, in which she specified that Yelm has water rights for a total of 719.66 acre-feet”, quoting The Olympian. HMMM! I wonder what the people over at Ecology think of a city attorney shrugging aside their work and saying the State’s comments about Yelm’s water availability has no relevance.

Plus, will developers be able to sell the glut of housing being approved here?
The Olympian reported last week that “Mortgage foreclosure notices rose nearly 52 percent in Thurston County last year, returning to levels they reached during the recession earlier in the decade, the county auditor’s records show…”

Let’s take an account:

With Yelm facing challenges with respect to water, traffic & storm-water runoff into the aquifer as covered here previously, do you think wise Yelm official’s pushing to make this area a retail hub?

Or, will the traffic and strain on our natural resources push the environmental challenges to the limit?

Do you and the citizens of Yelm even care?

Here is the Pierce County Business Examiner report:

“Yelm officials and business boosters are working hard to encourage residents and tourists who drive through the area to drop their retail sales tax dollars there.

Major renovations of the citys main thoroughfare, Yelm Avenue West, are intended to do just that, by creating a more attractive area for retailers to locate, said Mayor Ron Harding.

‘Yelm is in the center of south county, and we have major retail chains 15 miles away,’ Harding [Yelm Mayor Ron Harding] said of the largely bedroom community that sees its residents travel to jobs in Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater. ‘Were setting ourselves up as the hub for the county to provide opportunities for retailers to look at Yelm.’

The $8.8 million project came about because of a request by developers of Thurston Highlands and Tahoma Terra planned communities to form a Local Improvement District to make street improvements for those projects. But the city required the developers to extend those improvements to the states planned State Route 510/Yelm Loop project in order to better integrate the changes into other traffic improvements in the city. [Ed. Note: There is no funding for the by-pass, as covered here in-depth January 14, so Yelm is well over a decade away from being able to use a by-pass, if at all. Over a third of the Local Improvement District funding was on the backs of adjacent property owners in higher taxes, so the Tahoma Terra developers only paid slightly over half for this project, a project who’s construction was required ONLY BECAUSE OF Tahoma Terra’s traffic. So, a widened road to nowhere for at least a decade will be built on the backs of our taxpayers. Is that fair to the property owners there for many years?]

The project, which is under construction by S.C.I. Construction of Sumner, created Tahoma Boulevard and is realigning the intersection of Killion Road at Yelm Avenue West, which is also called State Route 510. Improvements include moving an intersection and installing a new traffic signal for Killion Road and Yelm Avenue West, as well as roadway widening and utility upgrading. The first phase of the project is complete and the second phase should be finished by this coming fall, Harding said.

The project, which features wider streets, sidewalks and landscaping designed by Skillings Conolly Inc. of Lacey, is helping to pave the way for expected growth, said Grant Beck, community development director.

‘The housing market in Yelm is part of the regional market, and its going to be a more attractive place to be for builders because its cheaper than up north,’ Beck said. December figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service show the cost of a single-family home in Yelm at $231,000, well below prices for homes in urban areas just a few miles away. Beck pointed out that the wave of retail development linked with residential growth has already begun.

‘Wal-Mart is open now, and were starting to see others come,’ Beck said. Creek Street Development of Seattle is building a 34,000-square-foot center, he said. The five-building center will feature a Starbucks, Anytime Fitness, Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Forbest Partners is building a 13,000-square-foot mixed-use complex nearby consisting of three buildings. And another project under review is a two-building complex totaling 22,000 square feet called Killion Crossing.

Retailers come with population growth, and Yelm has that. With a 6.1 percent population spurt in 2007, the city now has a population of 4,845 not quite the 5,000 it had projected in 2006, but close enough.

Even more important is that Yelm has a surrounding service area of 100,000 residents straddling the border between Pierce and Thurston counties, with unmet shopping needs, according to a retail study carried out for the city in 2005 by consultant Eric Hovee. That study spurred the formation of an ad-hoc economic development committee with members including Harding, Beck, City Administrator Shelly Badger and Thurston County Economic Development Council Executive Director Michael Cade.

But efforts to attract retailers came even before completion of the study and the committee it spawned.

Sewer upgrades allowing for more residential development were completed five years ago, and city officials have been trying to make their processing of development proposals more efficient, Harding said.

With new schools, fire stations and parks expected to begin coming online over the next few years with the Thurston Highlands master planned community, a bright outlook for retail growth is practically guaranteed. Shopping components are planned into the development, including a tentative Retail Street, which may include a farmers market, said spokesman Mike Williams.

‘Thurston Highlands will be an important part of Yelm,’ said Doug Bloom, one of the Thurston Highlands developers. ‘As a master planned community, it will bring new people to our area. But more importantly, it will bring with it a number of diverse opportunities.'”

January 26, 2008


Rainier-based award-winning author Bettye Johnson

Please come and celebrate with author Bettye Johnson
Saturday, January 26 from 2 – 5 p.m.
at the Blue Bottle ~ Yelm

As she introduces her newest book to our community and the world, Mary Magdalene, Her Legacy.

She will have books there for purchase and if you have already
purchased a book, please bring it and Bettye will sign it.

Ms. Johnson is also the author of the award-winning book Secrets of the Magdalene Scrolls.

January 25, 2008


Tenino’s Queen Bee Botanicals & AMA Handmade
A Winter Warmth Event
Saturday, January 26th, 1-6pm

Winter is a time of warm homes, self-reflection and friendly gatherings. Queen Bee Botanicals & AMA Handmade invite you to join us for a wonderful event that features handmade products from two great businesses new to the area.

Queen Bee Botanicals is a new botanical shop offering many elegant and handcrafted organic products for the body and home. These include such wonders as pure perfumes, massage oils, soaps, teas and herb-infused honeys

Agustina, designer for AMA Handmade, designs internationally acclaimed fashions. Some of her handcrafted pieces from Argentina include outrageous leather, fur and horn handbags and beautiful woven sweaters. You can preview her fashions at www.amahandmade.com.

The event is located out in the country- 5 minutes from Tenino. Visit the Queen Bee Botanicals Website for directions and map- www.queenbeebotanicals.net or call (360)264-7286 for more information.


January 24, 2008



January 24, 2008
Yelm, WA. JZ Knight, the founder of Ramthas School of Enlightenment (www.ramtha.com), today expressed great concern that the City of Yelm is continuing to issue approvals for new development despite the fact that the Citys water demand already exceeds its approved water rights. Specifically, Knight has voiced concern over five proposed development plans that would add almost 600 new homes in Yelm, WA. Knight has asserted that the City is approving new development based upon pure speculation that the City will achieve a six-fold increase in its water rights within 4 years. The Citys own Comprehensive Water Plan concedes that acquiring any new water rights is increasingly difficult, if not impossible.

Knight joins many other residents concerned about unrestrained development in Yelm without the proper planning of infrastructure to meet future demands. Knight is calling for more responsibility with regards to development and management of the Citys water resources, urging the City to plan for growth at a rate that can be accommodated by its existing and future water supply.

Knight appealed the proposed development decisions and asked the City Council to reverse a Hearing Examiners ruling to grant preliminary approval for Tahoma Terra Phase II, Divisions 5 & 6, Windshadow I, Windshadow II, Wyndstone and Berry Valley I. An appeal hearing was held on January 22, 2008. The City Council denied the appeals and approved the developments despite evidence from the Washington State Department of Ecology confirming that the Citys current water demand exceeds the Citys water rights. The Citys attorney advised the City Council that the Department of Ecologys water rights determination is just an opinion and does not limit the Citys plans for future development.

As a concerned Yelm citizen and environmentalist, I cannot in good conscience stand by while our Citys resources are used irresponsibly, stated Knight. I am not against growth in Yelm by any means. I am a huge advocate for this town and am in full support of growth based on sound planning. Our water supply is in danger and I am compelled to stand up for the future of Yelm, its livelihood and well-being. The Citys action in approving development when it is exceeding its water rights endangers the entire community, but especially property owners like me who have followed the law and obtained legal water rights that are protected by law. It would be devastating for me to not speak up when the City of Yelms rapid growth is outstripping its water supply.

About JZ Knight
JZ Knight was born in Roswell, New Mexico, in March 1946. She is the author of the bestselling autobiography, A State of Mind: My Story, the unique channel of Ramtha the Enlightened One, and one of the most charismatic leaders of the Schools of Ancient Wisdom and the Great Work in the world today.

January 23, 2008


Photo courtesy of Yelm-based photographer Guustaaf Damave

Keri Brenner of The Olympian filed this report earlier today:
“The city council on Tuesday unanimously denied an appeal by JZ Knight, leader of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, clearing the way for construction of five residential developments totaling 568 homes within city limits.

Council members said they could not find legal grounds to overturn an Oct. 9 ruling by hearing examiner Stephen Casseaux Jr. that found a “reasonable expectation” that adequate water would be available to serve the new homes in the future.

Knight’s attorney, Keith Moxon of Seattle, disagreed with Casseaux, arguing at Tuesday’s meeting that the city already was pumping more water than it had legal water rights to use.

He said Casseaux was engaging in “speculation” that within four years, six times as much water might become available.

“It’s not a surprise, but we’re still disappointed,” Moxon said after the 7-0 vote to uphold Casseaux’s ruling before a packed room of about 30 people, with more people listening in the hallway. “They’re playing Russian roulette with the city’s future.”

Moxon said he would review the council’s written ruling before a decision is made whether to appeal the case Thurston County Superior Court.

Moxon said the city was ignoring its own comprehensive plan for water, which states that “it is becoming difficult if not impossible to get future water rights.”

“By the time of final approval, developers will be long gone, the lots will be sold to unsuspecting buyers, and there will be no water certificates,” Moxon said.

The five proposed developments Tahoma Terra Phase II, Windshadow I, Windshadow II, Wyndstone and Berry Valley I are in the southwest part of the city within about a mile of Knight’s 80-acre ranch, which was established in 1988…

Seattle attorney Richard Settle, representing the city, argued that state law does not specify that water rights be secured prior to preliminary development approval. The law, Settle said, only requires that the city have a “reasonable plan, with a reasonable expectation,” that water rights will be available later.

“It could be many years before these homes are built,” he said.

Settle also downplayed the value of an Aug. 20 letter from Tammy Hall, a hydrogeologist for the state Department of Ecology, in which she specified that Yelm has water rights for a total of 719.66 acre-feet. Moxon distributed the letter to city officials at the meeting Tuesday as proof that claims by the city that 832 acre-feet were available are in error.

One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover an acre of land at the depth of one foot…

Councilman Mike McGowan pointed to a condition attached to Casseaux’s approval that none of the homes would be granted final plat approval or building permits without secured water rights.”

Ed Note:
1. Interesting that homes could be built in the future without knowing whether water rights will exist at that time.

2. The city attorney on this issue swept aside the Washington State Dept. of Ecology official’s report on the availability of water in Yelm – or lack thereof. Is Thurston County Superior Court the only place the State’s own Dept. of Ecology will be taken seriously?

3. Of course building homes at all is a dicey thing right now with the housing market in steep decline and a credit tightening not seen in years. The City of Yelm’s budget is based on permits and home sales from these developments plus property tax revenue. Will that revenue be available to the city with this kind of market slowing?
The Olympian reported last week that “Mortgage foreclosure notices rose nearly 52 percent in Thurston County last year, returning to levels they reached during the recession earlier in the decade, the county auditor’s records show…

In addition, South Sound home sales have slowed as inventories have risen, making it harder for buyers to escape mortgages by selling their homes…

Luke [Randy Luke, branch manager of Horizon Mortgage] and other South Sound lenders predict this will be another year of high foreclosure activity before victims of the liberal lending practices of the past work out their problems…

‘The next two years could be rough unless a lot of new people move into the market,’ he said [Ron Hanson, president and co-owner of Madrona Mortgage in Olympia].”

The Pierce County Business Examiner is reporting in this week’s edition that:
“Dampening of the housing market elsewhere in the country has not thwarted plans for the Thurston Highlands Master Planned Community, a 1,251-acre mixed-use development headed for Yelm. But the hoped-for building time line of this summer has been delayed…

Dampening of the housing market elsewhere in the country has not thwarted plans for the Thurston Highlands Master Planned Community, a 1,251-acre mixed-use development headed for Yelm. But the hoped-for building time line of this summer has been delayed…

Thurston Highlands LLC now hopes to be near completion of the environmental impact statement process this summer, said spokesman Mike Williams.”

January 22, 2008


JZ Knight

In two stories filed this morning:

The Olympian is reporting:
“Ramtha leader to fight Yelm growth”
“JZ Knight, the leader of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, is asking the City Council tonight to reverse approvals that would add 568 new homes within city limits.

Knight, represented by Seattle attorney Keith Moxon, says an Oct. 9 ruling by hearing examiner Stephen Casseaux Jr. was in error because it fails to show that adequate water rights are available to serve the new homes.

“The city of Yelm is continuing to issue approvals for new development, despite the fact that its water demand already exceeds its approved water rights,” Moxon said.

He said the future water availability was not certain and must be authorized by the state Department of Ecology.”

KING-5 news is reporting:
“JZ Knight, self-proclaimed channeler of the ancient male warrior spirit Ramtha and the leader of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, is fighting five new housing developments saying there isnt enough water for hundreds of new homes.

Knight owns a 100-acre property in Yelm which houses her school, which has thousands of followers.

“JZ and I are not against growth by any means. We love Yelm, we love the people in Yelm. What needs to take place here is growth management,” said James Flick, JZK Inc. property manager.

At issue is the water. JZ Knight claims the city granted developers permission to build almost 600 homes without adequate water rights.

“We found that Yelm doesn’t have adequate water supply for this project. They’re overdrawn,” said Flick.

The city had no comment because the matter is under appeal…

Water isn’t the only issue. Traffic, which is already a big problem in the area, will get even worse.

A City Hall hearing on this matter is planned for Tuesday, January 22, at 7:30 p.m.”

The AP wire picked up this story and Seattle’s two newspapers have now carried this news:

The Seattle Times

The Seattle P-I

Information on Ms. Knight’s appeal is on the City of Yelm website.


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