October 22, 2008

WIND POWER COMING TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD BACK YARD!

“Winds of change may be blowing right through your neighborhood. Whatcom County is considering allowing home owners to set up large turbines on their property, but in some places people are putting smaller turbines on their roofs to generate energy. Can this earth-friendly way of producing power for yourself also put some green back in your wallet? KING 5’s Mimi Jung reports.”


October 21, 2008

YELM’S WAL-MART IMPACTING THE LOCAL ECONOMY

RETAIL SALES UP IN YELM – WAL-MART OPENING CITED
“Taxable retail sales in Thurston County dropped nearly 6 percent in the second quarter compared with 2007, another blow to South Sound’s economy at a time when some local governments are considering layoffs to offset lost revenue.

Signs of a slower economy appeared in the first quarter of the year, when the county’s taxable retail sales fell 1.3 percent, according to state Department of Revenue data. It was the first decline in 13 years.

In the second quarter, taxable retail sales in the county fell 5.61 percent to $1.01 billion from $1.07 billion in the same period in 2007…

In Yelm, the site of a new Wal-Mart, retail sales generated by general merchandise stores shot up 391 percent to $9.62 million from $1.95 million, according to the second-quarter data,” quoting The Olympian.

The Olympian noted in the same story consistent growth with “retail sales in Lacey generated by “sporting goods” soared 246 percent to $16.2 million from $4.68 million. Clothing and clothing accessory retail sales also jumped more than 220 percent in the second quarter.

The outdoors store Cabela’s and department store Kohl’s opened in Lacey last fall.”

[Ed Note: This is impressive sales growth. Wise to keep in mind though that Wal-Mart opened in July 2007, so while retail sales are up overall in Yelm because of Wal-Mart’s opening, a better comparison will be when the fourth quarter sales figures are released comparing year-over-year with an open Wal-Mart here for the full quarter. In the third quarter of 2008, Yelm had no Two Friend’s Bistro or Arnold’s Country Inn, while a KFC and Japanese restaurant opened.]

THE SEPTEMBER, 2008 ECOLOGIST MAGAZINE SAID WAL-MART AFFECTS CITIES WHERE A NEW STORE IS OPENED:
“Researchers at the University of Chicago used survey and market data to assess the impact of a new Wal-mart store, built in one of the city’s neighborhoods in 2006. They found that the wal-Mart store ‘displace(d) a significant amount of sales from its home zip code’ and that ‘proximity to Wal-Mart may have increased the probability that a business closed during the first year of Wal-Mart’s operation.’
CLICK HERE to read the study.

HEAR YELM WAL-MART PICKETERS IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Andrew Wright and Lisa Fitkin of Nisqually Media interviewed the local Wal-Mart picketers.
Hear their comments in their own words. CLICK HERE.
And, the NVN’s spin on this story, CLICK HERE.
The New Rules site speaks to “The Hometown Advantage of reviving locally owned business” and lists the damage a Wal-Mart does over time to small cities and towns. CLICK HERE

MAYOR COMMENTS ON YELM WEATHERING THIS ECONOMY
Mayor Harding said in his column in the Oct. 17 NVN,
“The largest source of revenue for the city is sales taxes, collected through purchases made at local businesses…. As our tax revenue drop, so does the ability to provide those services [police, fire, maintenance for parks, streets & neighborhoods]…
We can weather a downturn in the economy and continue to provide vital city services. The City of Yelm continues down a healthy, fiscally conservative road.”

I CERTAINLY HOPE SO, HOWEVER LET’S SEE FOURTH QUARTER RETAIL SALES STATISTICS WHEN WE CAN VIEW A FULL 2007 QUARTER WITH A YELM WAL-MART OPEN COMPARED WITH 2008.

That said, KING-5 News in Seattle reports today “More Americans worried about economy”
&
MSNBC reports today in top headlines:
Planning for ‘Greater Depression’
“Special report: From hoarding food and bullets to learning how to sew, some Americans are preparing for even worse economic times.”
&
Survivalists hunker down [Excellent Video]
“While many Americans are worried about the tough economic times, Rob, an urban survivalist in Seattle says hes preparing his family for the worst-case scenario.”


October 20, 2008

UPDATE: NVN OMITTED MAIN ISSUE OF CASE IN YELM WATER APPEAL STORY

Regarding the NVN front-page story last week concerning the case of JZ Knight vs City of Yelm et al titled “Lawsuit Ruling: Business as usual”, the NVN article presented one issue that was resolved in Court and agreed by all. However, totally omitted was what Judge Wickham had to say in his Letter Opinion dated October 7, 2008 about the second issue that was the crux of the case.
Also interesting that the Mayor did not address this issue in the NVN story either.
Did the NVN & the Mayor not read the Judge’s letter?

One has to wonder why this was omitted, especially since this is the part of the Judge’s Opinion with which Developers Bloom & Chamberlain have issue when they wrote the NVN last week,
“Recently, we spent hundreds of thousands of our hard-earned money in attorney and consultant fees defending our livelihood.
Other local developers.builders and the city also spent an equivalent amount and for what?”

For what, they ask?
That was presented by Knight’s attorney before a Hearing Examiner in Yelm and the Yelm City Council in 2007, which has now been addressed by the Thurston County Superior Court –
to get the City of Yelm to follow the laws of the State of Washington on water.
[Ed. Note: Bloom & Chamberlain knew all along there was not enough water to support these developments, as they have been feverishly attempting to acquire water rights for their properties for a couple of years now. Did they just go along and trust the City, expecting no one would be perceptive that there was not enough water or go to Superior Court if they did notice? Wise developers should make absolutely certain the city has the water available before committing on any development. Otherwise, they may sink alot of money into a project, not be permitted to build and accrue out-of-pocket expenses they may never be able to recoup.]

Judge Wickham noted the second issue was the one in dispute, which is:
“what level of proof of adequate potable water must be shown to allow the development?”
“The Washington Water Code requires that Ecology determine whether water sought is physically and legally available for use.”

The Judge stated “Petitioner [Knight] has presented evidence…to support its position that the City has been issuing building permits since 2001 that committed it to the supply of water in excess of its water rights.”

The State Dept. of Ecology agreed with Knight and also presented documented records of the city’s shortfall saying,
“At present, therefore, the City (Yelm) does not have ‘a potable water supply adequate to serve the development.'”

Further, Ecology put the City of Yelm on-notice in this case by saying in its Brief to the Court:
“Notwithstanding, Ecology is interested in highlighting the problem of granting a preliminary plat that defers securing potable water supply to the building permit stage, where there is insufficient water to supply the proposed development. Ecology notes that it has the authority to enforce against the City of Yelm if it exceeds its water limitations. However, Ecology is attempting to be proactive in this matter so as to present possible water right violations by the City of Yelm…”

The Judge quoted the following as guidelines:
“RCW 58.17.110 provides, inter alia, that
(2) A proposed subdivision…shall not be approved unless the city,
town, or county legislative body makes written findings that: (a)
Appropriate provisions are made for…potable water supplies…; and
(b) the public use and interest will be served by the platting of such subdivision and dedication.

The Yelm Municipal Code (YMC) provides:
A proposed subdivision and any dedication shall not be approved unless
the decision-maker makes written findings that:
A. Appropriate provisions are made for the public health, safety, and general welfare and for…potable water supplies.”

Judge Wickham further wrote:
“So it is clear that the City must make findings of “appropriate provisions” for potable water supplies in this case by the time of final plat approval.

If the determination were to be made today on this record, this Court would conclude the City would have to require a showing of approved and available water right sufficient to serve all currently approved and to-be approved subdivisions. The “reasonable expectation” based on historical City’s suggested finding potable water would be considered insufficient to satisfy this condition.”

This case has nothing to do with stopping or limiting development, rather to direct the City to follow the laws of:
the Revised Code of Washington (RCW)
the Yelm Municipal Code (YMC)
the Washington Water Code
and that a determination of ‘appropriate provision’ [of water] are a condition of preliminary plat approval and must be provided at final plat approval.

The NVN said:
“To date, the city has spent $145,000 on legal fees responding to Knights lawsuit.

That amount does not include staff hours.

‘In light of the vast time and money dedicated to this case,’ said City Administrator Shelly Badger in a press release, ‘it is ironic that the decision equates to Yelm doing business as usual.’

‘The permitting process isnt changed.'”

All of the legal fees were expended by the City to support its contention that it does not have to prove water availability until the building permit phase, rather than prior to that at the final plat phase. The City Council upheld that stand when this case came before them last year. Since Yelm was not following state standards for protecting water resources and the public, a petitioner’s course of redress is to the Superior Court, which is what Ms. Knight did.

Mayor Harding can say this is “business as usual”, however to quote Knight’s attorney Keith Moxon,
“The Judge agreed with JZ Knight that a “reasonable expectation” (Yelm’s current wording to approve developments’ water rights acquisition in the future) is not sufficient to meet the legal requirement of making “appropriate provisions” for a potable water supply.

JZ Knight is grateful that this Judge carefully reviewed the record of the city’s actions and determined that the city’s approach to approving development without provision for potable water is not lawful.

Hopefully, the City of Yelm will now make arrangements to stay within its water rights and approve new development only when it has an adequate water supply.”

The Judge will sign a formal order to put this decision in effect the week of Nov. 4th.
Read Judge Wickham’s October 7th Letter Opinion in the case of JZ Knight vs. City of Yelm et al for yourself!

UPDATE, Oct. 20th at 2:25pm
This writer asked this morning and just received the City of Yelm Water Press Release dated October 10, 2008 from where I quote:
“‘To set aside water rights at a time other than building permit does not make sense. In essence, the City would have to set aside water for lots that might not ever be developed,’ said Yelm Mayor Ron Harding, who is happy with the decision.

‘If the judge had agreed with Knight,’ Harding explained, ‘all growth in Yelm, including the construction of new homes and businesses would stop.’

‘With the economic challenges we are facing, both nationally and locally, continued development is essential to maintain a healthy community,’ Harding concluded.”

Mr. Mayor, did you not read Judge Wickham’s Letter Opinion about the 5 subdivisions as quoted above???
Bottom line: Water has to be proven to be available for these 5 subdivisions at final plat. If not, then construction in these developments cannot move forward.

Therefore, the City’s Press Release and quotes from Mayor Harding & City Administrator Badger are not-so-subtle, calculated and deliberate attempts at subterfuge of the truth and public trust. Quoting only the city’s own Press Release and not Judge Wickham’s Opinion Letter is indicative of the newspaper’s complicity, too, which is no surprise…


October 19, 2008

SUPPORT OUR LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESSES: THE BRAIN WIZARD

Yelm-area residents Sabine Palinckx and Sandra Betel-McLean have just launched their new website:
The Brain Wizard.

The website offers the latest information about the Human Brain in easy-to-understand language and Brain Training Games for all ages. They have found that children love to play Brain Games, however the set-up is for all ages, so there are different levels on which you can train.

All feedback is welcome and they will keep expanding and making the site better, continuously.


October 18, 2008

NEW VISITOR CENTER OPENS AT MT. RAINIER

“Improving Paradise with a new $22 million visitor center”
The new $22 million visitor center, in the upper parking lot at Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park, opens Friday [Oct. 10].

But the change doesn’t end there…

The new center will feature brand-new, state-of-the-art displays and a new, 22-minute movie about the park. The exhibits are the result of eight years of work and $2 million, said Patti Wold, park exhibit specialist,” quoting The Olympian.

“Energy efficiency improves with new Mount Rainier visitor center”
“Friday’s opening of the new Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center will complete a nearly $50 million, nine-year transformation of Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park,” quoting The Olympian.


October 17, 2008

TYRANNY OF OIL AUTHOR COMING TO OLYMPIA WITH GRAND INFORMATION


Coming Monday, October 20, 2008
07:00 PM
CAPITOL THEATER
206 5th Ave SE Olympia, WA 98503

Monday, October 20 – SPSCC (BRICK) and OUUC Social Justice Presents
Guest Speaker and Author Antonia Juhasz The Tyranny of Oil: the Worlds Most Powerful Industry, and What We Must Do To Stop It
6:30pm doors/7:00pm show
$7.00 Students/ $10.00 General Admission
Advance tickets available online at www.buyolympia.com, or at the box office night of show.
ALL AGES
“Juhasz discusses how Big Oil manages to hide its business dealings from policy makers, legislators, and most of all, consumers. She investigates the true state of the U.S. oil industry, uncovering its virtually unparalleled global power and its influence over our elected officials. She reveals to us both why and what we can do about it.
Ticket sales benefit the local GI Coffee House.
To learn about the author: www.thebushagenda.net

Why are oil and gas prices so high?

Who’s really controlling those prices?

How much oil is left?

How far will Big Oil go to get it?

And at what cost to the environment, human rights, the economy, worker safety, public health, and democracy?

The answers aren’t what you think. They’re much worse. But there’s also plenty that we can do about it.

As oil pricesand public outrageskyrocket, Antonia Juhasz, a leading industry critic and expert on corporations and globalization, gives us the hardest-hitting expos of the oil industry in decades. In The Tyranny of Oil she investigates the true state of the U.S. oil industryuncovering its virtually unparalleled global power, influence over our elected officials, and lack of regulatory oversight, as well as the truth behind $150-a-barrel oil, $4.50-a-gallon gasoline, and the highest profit in corporate history. Exposing an industry that thrives on secrecy, Juhasz shows how Big Oil manages to hide its business dealings from policy makers, legislators, and, most of all, consumers. She reveals exactly how Big Oil gets what it wantsthrough money, influence, and lies.

The Tyranny of Oil offers both a new take on problems and a new set of solutions as Juhasz puts forward an immediate call to actiona formula for reining in the industry, its governmental lobbying power, environmental destruction, and violence while reducing global dependence on oil. Her thought-provoking answers to the most pressing energy questions speak directly to readers concerned about oil and gas prices, global warming, wars for oil, and America’s place in the world. With the major players in the world’s most powerful industry charged with collusion, price-gouging, anticompetitive behavior, and unabashed greed, Juhasz calls boldly for the breakup of Big Oil.”


October 16, 2008

“STATE PLAN WOULD SEND MIILLIONS TO THURSTON…PARKS”

“Thurston and Mason counties parks and conservation projects would receive millions of dollars in state grants under a ranking put out by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office today [Sep. 26.].

In the 2009 legislative session, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition will work to sustain the $100 million to fund as many of the projects as possible.

Thurston County projects that would receive funding include:

Woodard Bay NRCA, almost $1.3 million: Additional acreage, including shoreline, will enhance riparian habitat in a rapidly developing residential area.

Black River Ranch, almost $1.2 million: Protects a 725-acre dairy farm containing wetlands, floodplain, riparian and upland habitat.

Black River Conservation Initiative, $920,180: Protects 330 acres of riparian and 70 acres of associated upland habitat.

Ward Lake Acquisition, $750,000, Olympia: 9 acres for public swimming beach.

South Sound Prairie and Grassland Bald Hill Restoration, $270,380: Restores south Puget Sound grasslands threatened by invasive plant species.

Tenino City Park Expansion, $57,500: 6.27 acres of land provides a trail corridor, wildlife habitat, birdwatching and environmental education,” quoting The Olympian.


October 15, 2008

UPDATE: JUDGE ISSUES OPINION IN CITY WATER CASE

Reported here on March 13, 2008 was this story titled,
“JZ Knight challenges City of Yelms approval of five proposed subdivisions” [Tahoma Terra Phase II, Divisions 5 & 6; Windshadow I; Windshadow II; Wyndstone; and Berry Valley I].
“Knight files Land Use Petition in Superior Court of Washington citing lack of available water resources to meet current & existing demand.”

Update:

The case started in July, 2007 in front of the Yelm Hearing Examiner and continued through appeals to the Yelm City Council and State Superior Court. The hearing on the merits of the case came before Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham on Wednesday, October 1, 2008 in Olympia.

Judge Wickham listened to the points filed by attorneys for JZ Knight, the petitioner and attorneys for the City of Yelm and the land developers, the respondents. The Judge’s Letter Opinion was issued on October 7, 2008.
Read Judge Wickham’s October 7th Letter Opinion in the case of JZ Knight vs. City of Yelm et al for yourself!

Fact:
The City has to provide water to its citizens according to its legal entitlements under the water laws of the State. Those legal entitlements are allocated to the City by way of certificated water rights that are issued and administered by the State of Washington Dept. of Ecology (DOE).

The Issue:
At issue between the City, the developers & Knight is when and in what form those water resources must be presented as a condition of development approval by the city to a developer, and then proven as a resource to that development.

Petitioner – JZ Knight:
In a statement issued by Keith Moxon, attorney for petitioner Knight, he states that just a ‘reasonable expectation’ of potable water [the City’s language they are defending] is not sufficient to meet the legal requirement of making ‘appropriate provisions’ for a potable water supply.”

Respondents – City of Yelm & developers:

The City of Yelm and the developers have been arguing that the City does not need to have DOE approved water rights at the time of subdivision approval. The City claimed it is sufficient to have a “reasonable expectation” of getting them by the time building permits for homes are issued. However the time between a subdivision’s approval and issuance of a permit to build a house in that subdivision can be years, and in that time, many conditions can change, including water availability. The Judge cited in the courtroom the abrupt downturn in the economy as but one example of how quickly a situation can change. He asked how the City can know years down the road if water can be provided at the building permit phase, yet after a development has been approved and the developers are long gone. In his questioning, he got City of Yelm attorney Richard Settle to agree water is a finite resource.

Washington State Dept. of Ecology:

As a unique aspect of this case, the DOE requested to provide information to the Court by way of an Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) Brief. The Judge acknowledged this request and allowed such a brief to be admitted into the record. Petitioner Knight, the Judge and the DOE all agreed that the City does not even have water rights to cover existing water usage, let alone enough for new subdivision developments.

Bottom Line:

Appropriate provisions must be proven before final approval of any subdivision. The City has been in denial that they have to prove anything other than a “reasonable expectation” of water availability before a building permit is issued, at some point long after final subdivision approval.

To the contrary, the Judge agreed with Petitioner Knight that a “reasonable expectation” of potable water is not sufficient to meet the legal requirement of making “appropriate provisions” for a potable water supply. The Judge required the City to prove it has an adequate water supply at the time of final plat approval for these five subdivisions.

What’s next:
The Judge will sign a formal order to put this decision in effect within a week or two.

The Olympian has this to say on this case:
“JZ Knight wins land-use appeal
Planned housing blocked; judge cites lack of water right”

STAY TUNED FOR FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS.


October 14, 2008

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO RESTORE SALMON HABITAT

Nisqually Stream Stewards are seeking volunteers for a morning of planting on Saturday, October 18, from 9 a.m. to noon on Tanwax Creek.

The plantings along Tanwax Creek, a tributary to the Nisqually River, will restore important riparian habitat. The project will take place on private property and is part of a large restoration project that will involve hundreds of students and volunteers.

Be advised that there are no restroom facilities on site. Planting will take place rain or shine, so please dress appropriately. Proper footwear is also recommended. Tools, gloves, and refreshments will be provided.

Nisqually Stream Stewards is a volunteer program organized by the Nisqually Tribe for people living in the Nisqually watershed who want to help protect and improve the stream health. Nisqually Stream Stewards monitor the health of their local stream and help with projects that improve stream health, such as removing invasive grass from stream channels or planting trees along stream banks.

WHAT: Tanwax Creek planting

WHERE: Off of Highway 702 near Tanwax Creek.

WHEN: Saturday, October 18
9 a.m. to noon

Nisqually Stream Stewards and the Nisqually Land Trust are seeking volunteers for a morning of planting
along the Nisqually River and will restore important riparian habitat. The project will take place on the Wilcox Family Farm property and is part of a large restoration project that has involved hundreds of students and volunteers.

Volunteers will first gather at the Wilcox Family Farms main office parking lot on Harts Lake Valley Rd. near Roy. Be advised that there are no restroom facilities on site. Planting will take place rain or shine, so please dress appropriately. Gloves and proper footwear are also recommended. Tools and refreshments will be provided.

WHAT: Salmon habitat restoration plantings

WHEN: Saturday, October 24 and Sunday, October 25
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

WHERE: Meet at 40400 Harts Lake Valley Rd
Roy, Washington

To volunteer for the planting, contact Don Perry at (360) 438 8687 or perry.don@nisqually-nsn.gov


October 13, 2008

SURPRISE?! TRAFFIC NOT RELIEVED BY RECONSTRUCTED YELM AVE.

Now that the Yelm Ave. West reconstruction has been completed except for painting the lines, have you noticed that the traffic back-ups are still prevalent every morning & afternoon on this road?

The new center turn lane and repaving is not assisting in handling the traffic, as this writer said many times previously.There is still only one lane in and one lane out of town on this road, so expect further delays.

Interesting that Yelm’s City Council put almost half of the construction of Yelm Ave. West on the backs of property owners along Yelm Ave & Killion Roads via a developer-requested LID. This passed because of a presentation that property values along the newly paved areas would increase because of the road improvements and those property owners should pay for the expectation of property value increases via road construction taxes on their property. Now we have decreasing property values and those property owners are left “holding the bag” in having to pay those higher taxes, all-the-while watching property values tumble.
Yet Yelm drivers are still stuck in traffic!

We have a Mayor & City Council that support and approve almost every new development presented to them, while the repercussions of their decisions keep multiplying on the infrastructure here: roads, water, water recharge infiltration, etc.
Mayor Harding is on-record saying most of the traffic is caused from outside of the City of Yelm. If that is so, that is still no reason to not consider locally resolving the impacts that traffic has on Yelm and his constituents’ businesses.
While Yelm’s road improvements such as the inner loop are very much commended and welcome, this city has relied far too long on an unfunded State Bypass to mitigate Yelm’s pass-through traffic. We certainly have seen the same issue on Yelm Ave. East with back-ups there common almost everyday from 5 Corners back to Gordon’s, again with only a center turn lane added to assist with traffic flow; no mitigation in road capacity, even with the inner loop near completion.
The 2009 legislature is the next time a funding package will be discussed in Olympia. I serious question that this road will get funding any time soon, what with a global financial meltdown and greatly decreasing gas, property and sales tax receipts into city, county and state coffers.
Even if the Bypass is funded next year, Yelm won’t cut the ribbon on that road until 2015.

What do we do until then?

I have offered several suggestions including:
– widening Yelm Ave. to 5 lanes
– making Washington St. a one-way street eastbound from Longmire while and making Yelm Ave West a one-way street westbound from 507 to Longmire
– making the Yelm Ave. center turn lane a contra-flow lane during rush hour
all to no avail.

I find the Oct. 10 Letter to the Editor published in the NVN by a local Christian Pastor inferring about me to be ridiculous & misplaced: “[Klein is] representing the community, yet constantly is costing the community more and more money by functioning as a self-appointed obstructionist”.

As has been reported by the local media many times, people avoid coming to Yelm to shop because of the traffic. And that does not bode well for our commercial businesses in this economic downturn. Even Rep. Tom Campbell has stated at his Yelm Town Hall he does not like having to pass through Yelm’s traffic and uses alternates to bypass the city enroute to Olympia!

What has truly cost this community are only an inner loop, a center turn lane on Yelm Ave. and an unfunded Bypass to handle this community’s approved growth & pass-through traffic. People avoid Yelm because the traffic has not been properly mitigated. Ask any business owner and they will tell you their customers have issues coming to Yelm to shop because of the traffic.

Am I an obstructionist or Mayor-labeled “anti-growth”?
Hardly, I am neither except in the eyes of beholders; the fine pastor, Mayor and city officials!
Rather, I have called for growth to cease or slow significantly until the infrastructure can be properly provided to support such an influence on our area. Why is that idea so repulsive? What about the impact of growth for growth’s sake on our area’s future environment and what we leave our children?

The economic meltdown is already the vehicle that is slowing the growth here, like it or not. Yet the current traffic load remains.


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