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This writer wrote to Yelm’s Community Development Director Grant Beck on August 13, 2008 saying,

“I hear you have said to others recently that you have no intention to reject the Thurston Highlands Draft EIS for not following the SEPA rules.

Out of a total of 52 comments submitted to your office, most were by members of the community and almost all of those unanimously demanded that the draft be rejected for several reasons:

– this DEIS was over twice the length given as a maximum by SEPA rules

– this DEIS was not in clear and concise language

– many of the public asked for an extended comment period for some of these reasons

The citys own promulgated version of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) states:

Environmental impact statements shall be concise and written in plain language.
EISs shall not be excessively detailed or overly technical.
EISs shall explain plainly the meaning of technical terms not generally understood by the general public.
The text of an EIS (WAC 197-11-430(3))shall not exceed seventy-five pages;
except for proposals of unusual scope or complexity, where the EIS shall not exceed one hundred fifty pages. …

The purpose and intent of the State Environmental Policy Act rules are largely devoted to encouraging community participation and comment for obvious reasons…
This public input is of vital importance and must be construed in the spirit of the SEPA rules. To date, there has been no response from your office on the comments submitted by the community…

Do you or do you not intend to follow the expressed wishes of the community and reject this Draft EIS, and have it reissued according to lawful SEPA premises?

A week later, I received no response, so I called Mr. Beck and left a voicemail message giving him yet another opportunity to respond. As of 10 days later, I have heard nothing.

However, Mayor Harding’s and Mr. Beck’s comments in yesterday’s Nisqually Valley News say it all!

“Mayor Ron Harding said the document is lengthy because the city wanted to ensure it covered all aspects of the project.
Yelm’s Director of Community Development Grant Beck said there actually isn’t an overall size limitation to the document.
‘It could be a million pages long,’ Beck said,” quoting the NVN.

No size limitation, Mr. Beck?
The State of Washington Administrative Code (WAC) about SEPA quoted above says your conjecture is not so!

Your silence in not responding to the 52 commenters or to my written and oral requests for comment clearly indicate that you have no intention to reject the Thurston Highlands Draft EIS for not following the SEPA rules.
Your flagrant disregard for the city’s own version of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and lack of responsiveness to this community demonstrates your continued thumb-nosing at your constituents, to whom you were appointed to serve!

Did Mayor Harding read the public comments on the City of Yelm’s own website about this Draft EIS?
JZ Knight attorney Keith Moxon’s comments there clearly delineate in fine detail the incompleteness of the Thurston Highlands Draft EIS in failing to address so many issues.
Click here.
Olympia Engineer Ed Wiltsie’s comments further show DEIS gaps:
Click here.
Bill Hashim, a local resident & state ecologist for over 25 years highlights more discrepancies and omissions in the DEIS:
Click here.
These are not some insignificant statements, rather well-researched and documented reports from knowledgeable and experienced professionals all pointing to a sorely deficient DEIS.

The silence from the Community Development Director bespeaks volumes!

That silence is matched by the community-at-large, as well. While I acknowledge those that took the time to send in their comments, only 52 comments were filed from the greater Yelm community of over 10,000 people; that’s less than 1/2 of one percent.

The silence from the community on issues that will affect this town for generations bespeaks volumes, too!

The Mayor, City Council, Planning Commission and many in City Hall just wish I would be quiet and go away.
I will still bring up these issues for our community, nevertheless!

Posted by Steve on August 23, 2008 at 6:30 am | Permalink

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