On Tuesday, March 4, 2008, JZ Knight filed a Land Use Petition in the “Superior Court of Washington in and for Thurston County” to challenge the City of Yelm’s resolution adopted February 12, 2008 approving 5 subdivisions.
In her petition filed by her Seattle attorney Keith Moxon, Knight lays out her case as follows:
1. Knight presents facts demonstrating that she has standing to seek judicial review including:
A. she is a property owner within the City of Yelm and approval of substantial new development will adversely impact the city’s ability to provide adequate water in the future to her property.
B. she owns land in the Urban Growth Area near the 5 subdivisions and her existing water rights are constitutionally protected under a permit system by the Washington State Dept. of Ecology and have priority over and are protected against impairment by new water rights and changes to existing water rights that would serve these subdivisions.
2. Knight presents errors on which the Yelm City Council based their February 12, 2008 Resolution to approve the 5 subdivisions:
A. The City of Yelm’s final decision is an erroneous interpretation of the law because it fails to comply with the requirements of the State subdivision law and local subdivision and binding site plan code requirements.
She also asserts the City’s final decision fails to comply with planning and concurrency requirements of the Growth Management Act and the “concurrency management” requirements of the Yelm municipal code.
B. The City of Yelm’s final decision on allowing these 5 subdivisions does not provide any reasonable documentation of current water service connections, committed but not yet connected water service connections or estimated water demand from previously approved residential and commercial development projects, all of which are necessary to make reasonable determinations of future water demand and the city’s ability to provide water to serve the five proposed subdivisions.
C. The City of Yelm’s final decision fails to require evidence of water at the time of final subdivision approval and has failed to require compliance with SEPA and other conditions imposed prior to land use approvals.
D. Knight asserts the City of Yelm failed to follow a prescribed process because the City Council’s public hearing and final decision on Ms. Knight’s appeal was not confined to the record and because the City denied Ms. Knight the right to make objections at the City Council closed record public hearing to evidence presented by the applicants and City representatives that was not included in the record submitted to the City Council.
3. Ms. Knight presented the 2002 City of Yelm Water System Plan for its municipal water system that was approved by the Washington State Dept. of Health on September 16, 2002 to use as facts to sustain the statements of error in her Petition. This Plan outlines the difficulty for the City to obtain new or expanded water rights from the Dept. of Ecology.
Bottom line: Ms. Knight’s case questioning the City of Yelm’s ability to provide water to support 5 new subdivisions is now out of the City of Yelm’s hands and will be examined in Superior Court of Washington in and for Thurston County, where the City should be required to provide evidence of water rights availability to support such development.
JZ Knight issued a Press Release on January 24 listing her 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.
Information about Ms. Knight’s appeal at the Closed Record Hearing can be found on the City of Yelm website.
The Olympian report on this story in their March 5 editions.