Regarding the NVN October 10th front-page story quoting Mayor Harding and the City of Yelm Press release concerning the case of JZ Knight vs City of Yelm et al titled “Lawsuit Ruling: Business as usual”, Judge Chris Wickham made final yesterday his Letter Opinion dated October 7, 2008 about this case and did not change anything. The Court listened to a partial list of objections from the City and developers’ representatives and then stated that the City was attempting to keep the truth from being known in this case, overruling the City’s objection to have to inform Ms. Knight when any permits are issued in these five developments.
One can see that developers’ Bloom & Chamberlain Tahoma Terra phases will be impacted with this decision. Telling the NVN in mid-October,
“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.]
Yesterday, the NVN published Bloom/Chamberlain’s unfounded accusations about Ms. Knight’s property not operating in compliance & filing a complaint with Thurston County. Where was the NVN’s award-winning investigative journalism on this issue. The only thing that was given ink were Bloom & Chamberlain’s accusations, with NO questioning of the County. The NVN has previously reported the State’s Dept of Health & Ecology were called on by Bloom & Chamberlain to investigate Knight’s water systems and found to be in compliance, TWICE. Now Bloom & Chamberlain are asking the County to investigate Knight’s sewage systems.
Playing the victim and then throwing out accusations is an easy way to divert attention from the fact that these 2 developers just did not do their homework on Yelm’s water issues & moved ahead with their investments here anyway, expecting to acquire sufficient water only to be told the City does not have water to support some of their Tahoma Terra phases.
“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.
The final determination of the Court concluded the City is required to show approved and available water rights sufficient to serve all currently approved and to-be approved subdivisions in this case. “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.
Quoting 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.'”
That is not true now as NO permit can be issued in any of these five subdivisions unless adequate water is proven at final plat, NOT at building permit issuance stage.
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.”
Read Judge Wickham’s October 7th Letter Opinion in the case of JZ Knight vs. City of Yelm et al which was made final on Friday, November 7, 2008.
The City of Yelm Water Press Release dated October 10, 2008 says:
“‘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…
The Court saw that as well and mentioned this on the record yesterday!
The City must follow the Court’s findings or be in contempt.
The City can appeal the court’s decision.
Will the readers of the NVN be informed of this major decision affecting the way the City of Yelm conducts business?