We are nearing the final days of the public comment period for the Thurston Highlands Draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), July 28th.
Some things to keep in mind:
1. The EIS must be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
The purpose of the EIS and The Comprehensive Plan is to insure the wishes of the community are reflected in these documents.
“The Vision Plan is adopted by reference in the Yelm Comprehensive Plan, and became a guiding document in the creation of development regulations such as the Yelm Design Guidelines.”
2. The Yelm Vision Plan was instituted on January 5, 1995 by a group of people to reflect the will of the community.
This states on page 6, #B:
“Develop retail and commercial services to meet the needs of Yelms growing population. Focus new
commercial services in existing commercial areas.
on page 8:
Improve Yelms historic downtown (roughly between Solberg St. NW/SW, Stevens Ave.NE/NW, 4th St. NE/SE and Mosman Ave. SW/SE).
a. Provide more street amenities and pedestrian oriented businesses, such as open-air restaurants.
on page 12:
Each district would allow the full spectrum of uses as defined by zoning (Zoning will not be changed.) but will also feature guidelines to encourage specific activities and take advantage of special opportunities. For example, the village retail district will create an attractive pedestrian-oriented retail center to serve new residents in the southwest annexation (as well as providing a unique shopping experience in the city). The
downtown district targets visitors service businesses through historic preservation, street improvements, and by encouraging small cottage industries in existing structures.
on page 15:
Land Use and Design
4. Implement master plan for proposed SW Annex Development to form a high-quality residential community
integrated with the rest of Yelm. Restrict new commercial development outside the current commercially zoned area along Yelm venue.
on page 18:
Village Retail District [current downtown]
b. Make the site accessible from the Southwest Annex and Yelm Avenue. This will reduce congestion on Yelm Avenue by providing alternate access to the development. Easy access from the Southwest Annex will encourage residents to shop in the Village Retail District.
on page 19
Proposed Southwest Annex District [Thurston Highlands]
a. Higher density development, involving a mix of multifamily and single-family units should be located near
Yelm Avenue to encourage pedestrian trips to the Village Retail District [current downtown].
c. Commercial development should be kept to a minimum. Allow only small neighborhood-oriented commercial, such as small grocery stores.
PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAPS…
DOES ANYONE SEE THE CONNECTION HERE?
IS THURSTON HIGHLANDS’ EIS CONSISTENT WITH THE WISHES OF THE COMMUNITY, AS EXPRESSED IN YELM’S VISION STATEMENT ON THE CITY’S OWN WEBSITE?
AFTER ALL, THE VISION PLAN WAS DEEMED TO BE THE DESIRES OF THIS COMMUNITY!
WE ARE SEEING THIS DRAFT EIS PROPOSE ALMOST 1 MILLION SQUARE FEET OF NEW COMMERCIAL SPACE IN A DEVELOPMENT AWAY FROM THE YELM’S CURRENT DOWNTOWN, WHERE THE VISION STATEMENT SPECIFICALLY STATES:
Focus new commercial services in existing commercial areas
“Commercial development should be kept to a minimum [in Thurston Highlands]. Allow only small neighborhood-oriented commercial, such as small grocery stores.”
The Draft EIS States in Chapter 3, section 7-4:
Yelm Vision Plan
In the same time period during which the City of Yelm was adopting its Comprehensive Land Use Plan consistent with the Growth Management Act, the Yelm Chamber of Commerce and the local community created a Vision Plan designed to improve the economic vitality, convenience and appearance of the downtown commercial area by: focusing on industry, retail and commercial uses, and tourism; building community pride and involvement; enhancing the Citys identity with a directed sense of character, downtown improvements, and coordinated improvement efforts; improving vehicular circulation; and promoting efficient and high-quality land use.
The Vision Plan is adopted by reference in the Yelm Comprehensive Plan, and became a guiding document in the creation of development regulations such as the Yelm Design Guidelines.
Relationship of the Thurston Highlands Master Planned Community to the Yelm Vision Plan
The Yelm Vision Plan will be utilized by the City during the Thurston Highlands application review process for final Master Site Plan approval, and during formulation of a Development Agreement (or similar instrument) that will establish project-specific development standards and requirements for construction within the proposed Master Planned Community.
ISN’T THE YELM VISION PLAN SUPPOSED TO REFLECT THE DESIRES OF THE COMMUNITY & BE FOLLOWED?
WHY IS IT NOT BEING FOLLOWED WITH THIS DRAFT EIS?
The Thurston Highlands Draft EIS States in Chapter 3, section 7 – 3:
Relationship of the Thurston Highlands Master Planned Community to the Comprehensive Plan
The Thurston Highlands Master Planned Community must be consistent with policies of the Yelm Comprehensive Plan as part of the Master Planned Community approval.
The Draft EIS States in Chapter 3, section 7 – 1:
Relationship of the Proposal to Plans and Policies
Yelm Comprehensive Plan
The primary criteria for conceptual approval of a Master Plan Development is consistency with the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan.
IS THIS DRAFT EIS FOLLOWING THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN & VISION STATEMENT?
DOES THE COMMUNITY CARE IF CITY OFFICIALS CARRY OUT THEIR WISHES OR NOT VIA THESE DOCUMENTS?
IF WE MAKE A NEW COMMERCIAL AREA IN THURSTON HIGHLANDS OF ALMOST 1 MILLION SQUARE FEET [EQUIVALENT TO 5 SUPER WAL-MARTS] , WHAT IS GOING TO BE THE EFFECT ON YELM’S CURRENT COMMERCIAL AREA?
WILL THE COMMUNITY SHOP AT ALL BRIGHT, SHINY AND NEW BUSINESSES OR GO TO THE CURRENT DOWNTOWN AREA?
IF YOU HAD A BUSINESS IN YELM’S DOWNTOWN CORE, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS LOCATION BEING SHOVED ASIDE WHILE A NEW COMMERCIAL AREA IS DEVELOPED IN THURSTON HIGHLANDS?
WHY DID THIS CITY GO TO ALL OF THE TROUBLE TO CREATE A VISION STATEMENT AND THEN NOT FOLLOW IT?
WHERE IS THE PLANNING COMMISSION ON THIS ONE?
ALL THREE ALTERNATIVES SUGGESTED FOR THE HIGHLANDS OFFER LARGE COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY. THERE WAS NO ALTERNATIVE PRESENTED WITH LIMITED COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY THAT FOLLOWED THE VISION STATEMENT. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE AND THIS DRAFT EIS SHOULD BE REWORKED TO INCLUDE AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN WITH LIMITED COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT!
You have 10 days left to send your comments about this to:
Grant Beck, Community Development Director
City of Yelm Community Development Department
P.O. Box 479
Yelm, WA 98597