Yelm area resident Diane D’Acuti attended the August 6th Yelm Water Planning Process Open House and filed this report:
“I attended the August 6, 2008 Water Open House at the Yelm Public Safety Building. As you are aware – the Thurston Highlands EIS has been an issue because of the many contradictions. I had attended those open houses also and written to request that an extension be given for the comment period since the EIS did not comply with the standards in that it was twice as long as mandated and was not written in “plain and concise” language.
This is what I wrote to Grant Beck [City of Yelm Community Development Director] on July 24, 2008:
Mr. Grant Beck
Director of Community Development
PO Box 479
Yelm. WA 98597
SUBJECT: Thurston Highlands EIS
Dear Mr. Beck:
According to the WAC 197-11-700 Definitions, number three states “shall” is mandatory. Therefore, the Thurston Highlands EIS is not in compliance with the standards because it is twice as long as alloted. According to 197-11-425, number four, it
states “……the EIS _shall _not exceed one hundred fifty pages.” Therefore, this needs to be adjusted and at least a 60 day extension must be allotted to allow the concerned public to understand and comment. This policy is not clear and concise for the general public.
I have been attempting to carefully read this long and complex document and there are other issues of concern that need to be addressed referencing Thompson Creek, storm water, the wetland section and the proposed access to 93rd Ave.
Since the WAC has not been followed, I require that the adjustment take place and/or the minimum 60 day extension.
Grant Beck was at this open house [Aug. 6] so, since I had not heard any response to my email, I walked over and politely asked if he had given an extension for comments on the Highlands EIS. He simply said, “No.” I asked him, “Why not?” He said, “No, you were given 45 days.” I said, “Even though the EIS did not follow the state standards?” His response was that they could have gotten around that anyway by putting the information into appendixes.” I asked again, “Even though it is not in clear and concise language?” He just said no again and that the information was there. I expressed that because of the length and the manner in which it was written, it was difficult to understand and having a little more time would be beneficial for the public to read this lengthy document.
The bottom line is no! No one is going to give any more time. I basically said that it seems that they [City’s Development Dept.] had already made up their minds that it was going forward and it didn’t matter what input they received. The best that I can determine – that is exactly what is happening. They go through the “legal” motions and already have their minds made up. I have yet to see, after inquiries, comments or questions, that any changes are made or any information is taken into consideration.
The unfortunate part of all this is that the public is not informed and most people learn of what is happening when it is too late.
Who do we go to that will listen? I know of many people who have offered their time for free to help the city and no one listens.
What do we do??????
Ed. Note: Aren’t elected officials and their appointees here to serve the public they represent?
There are over 50 recorded comments [click here, then click Thurston Highlands logo on right] from the public that mostly all echo Ms. D’Acuti’s remarks, yet Mr. Beck’s disregard and downright disgust for the public he is supposed to serve is evident in his actions and remarks to Ms. D’Acuti.
The Yelm Comprehensive Plan specifically states that the Plan must follow the will of the community.
Why does the Community Development Director totally ignore the public in favor of developers, at every turn?
Why is the Comprehensive Plan and Yelm Vision Plan NOT being followed?
Why have a plan if City Hall is NOT going to follow the guidelines set forth in those documents?
Again, I ask the question, “Where is the outrage by Yelm’s own Planning Dept.?”
Their loud, collective chorus of silence is being joined in song by the Community Development Director’s repugnance for the very public they were appointed to serve!
Have your say and leave a comment here.
UPDATE AUGUST 13:
This writer wrote to the WA. Dept. of Ecology:
“Who enforces the City of Yelm to follow the WAC on the SEPA rules about the Thurston EIS length?”
and received this response:
The legislature has not provided a mechanism for enforcement of the State Environmental Policy Act. Compliance with SEPA is the responsibility of each state and local agency. Neither the Department of Ecology nor any other state agency attempts to police SEPA compliance by another agency.
If you have additional questions, please contact me.
Environmental Review and Transportation Section
Department of Ecology
PO Box 47703
Olympia WA 98504-7703