Ed. Note: Yelm Planning Commission Chair Carlos Perez emailed Community Development Director Grant Beck about the Thurston Highlands Draft EIS and copied this writer in response to my letters. I requested permission to print his letter, telling Mr. Perez I find his note is “to be of public interest & significance” in presenting the evolving facets of this story. Mr. Perez gave permission to the Yelm Community Blog to publish his letter “on the condition that you print it in its entirety”.
Yelm Planning Commission Chair Carlos Perez’s unabridged letter to Yelm Community Development Director Grant Beck and his assistant Tami Merriman was dated September 1, 2008:
I am disturbed by the editorial letter written by Mr. Klein in the NVN. And by a similar letter emailed to you with a CC to me and others. I visited your office on Thursday, August 28th to ask whether or not you had responded to that email. I spoke with Tami. She told me that you were working on it and that all comments and queries including Mr. Klein’s email, which was noted to be a comment on the DEIS, would be addressed at the same time so as to eliminate or minimize inconsistencies in your response. I can understand that. I also understand that the law (WAC) defines the process underwhich responses to DEIS comments are conducted. And that is in the body of the Final DEIS (WAC 197-11-560).
What I don’t understand and am disturbed by is the comment made by Mr. Klein that you “have said to others recently that you have no intention to reject the Thurston Highlands DEIS for not following the SEPA rules”. If not you, then who? The Planning Commission? By recommendation to the City Council and Mayor? You are also quoted as saying, ” there isn’t actually an overall size limitation to the document. It could be a million pages long”. I suspect you were referring to 999,850 pages of background material and appendices.
I agree that the Thurston Highlands DEIS follows and complies with the format detailed in WAC 197-11-430 and the detail in WAC 197-11-440.
I am not a lawyer or a judge. But, I refer you to WAC 197-11-425 (4) which unequivocally and explicitly states:
(4) The text of an EIS (WAC 197-11-430(3)) normally ranges from thirty to fifty pages and may be shorter. The EIS text shall not exceed seventy-five pages; except for proposals of unusual scope or complexity, where the EIS shall not exceed one hundred fifty pages. Appendices and background material shall be bound separately from the EIS if they exceed twenty-five pages, except if the entire document does not exceed one hundred pages or a FEIS is issued under WAC 197-11-560(5).
The bold lettering is mine.
I can also understand the “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” position you are in. Provide too much information and you are confusing the public; provide too little and you are hiding negative details. Nevertheless, there is no question that WAC rules were not followed. Even if we restrict the number of pages to those with “text” only, we still exceed the 150 pages allowed by WAC.
By those rules the Thurston Highlands DEIS is not in compliance.
I would suggest that the Thurston Highlands DEIS be ammended to include only the PDF file Sections 0.0, 1.0, and 2.0 (116 pages). It appears to me that these PDF sections by themselves comply with the WAC requirements for an EIS. All other detailed Sections should be included by reference or under separate bound cover designated as background material or appendices.
Ed. Note: This writer thanks & acknowledges Mr. Perez for raising this issue exactly 35 days after the close of public comment on the Thurston Highlands DEIS (July 28), which was at the conclusion of 45 days of the open public comment period, or a total of 80 days since the DEIS was released. For the Planning Commission Chair to do so prior to the Final EIS is important.