On Tuesday, November 10, 2009, the Yelm City Council approved Ordinance 914 unanimously and without discussion to begin the condemnation of the McMonigle Water Rights in order to acquire them for the city’s use.
This story was covered here extensively on November 10th following that meeting.
Here is the letter to the public from the McMonigles – in their own words:
Let’s go through the NVN article on Yelm seizing our water rights, but first a quick recent over view:
The end of May we were informed that the developer could not perform on the 2005 contract to buy our water rights. This contract gave the city of Yelm the right TO assume the contract. We went to the City, Shelly Badger, and told her we were fine with this, we were informed that while the City wants and very much needs our water that the city has historically not paid that much for water and would not. Shortly after we had a meeting with Ron Harding and Shelly Badger and were offered $2,500 per acre foot and a signing bonus of $25,000 and in the same breath were told if we didn’t take it our water rights would be condemned.
You’d think we were asking a very high price but in fact our price is a third of many of the asking prices locally (ask any of the local water right holders what they are willing to sell their rights for, as many of them have been
approached by the city and you will find prices of at a minimum $10,000 and stated in the Oly $15,000 per acre foot). We were not trying to cut a fat hog and in fact have bent over backwards to help the city (pay over time, water hookups, etc.).
While the City had their plan (I don’t have detail of all the side deals included in this) of getting the developer to purchase and paying back to the developer for the water, the City has had control of how and when to proceed with the transfer since 2005 and we have been told 3 to 6 months for completion since 2005. The price we ask is fair and more than fair we should not bear the cost of Yelm mistakes or misfortunes, Yelm will be more than be paid back for
their water right purchase through water hookup fees of over $5000 per hookup when you consider that for ever acre foot of right you serve at this time over 3 and closer to 4 customers and it is anticipated serve over 4 possibly 6 hookups from 1 acre foot.
1. Money spent on negotiations- we have been forced to hire an attorney and borrow money, when all Yelm had to do was sign a fair contract.
2. By locking us into only selling to Yelm so “no one else can come in and purchase the water rights”
Where is that a fair bargaining tool?
3. Have the City explain the $200,000 and how that is our fault or responsibility and who incurred the cost and why?
4. Condemnation is not about negotiating a fair price look it up
CONDEMNATION IS A TAKING call it what it is.
5. Just because the City wants to CONDEMN us doesn’t mean they can, other cities have tried and failed. When they do fail who will pay for the damage done to us? Because we are not caving to threat (RIGHT IS MIGHT).
Charlotte (McMonigle) Zinski & Elbert J McMonigle
Ed. Note: So, this is no longer the City of Yelm laying blame on JZ Knight for their legal expenses and water issues. The city has taken aim at their own citizens by fleecing them with excessively high water bills and now condemning a citizens water rights, saying that to date, the city has spent $200,000 in outside consulting, legal and engineering fees to secure the city’s interest in the McMonigle Water Rights alone – water rights Ecology already ruled may not be usable by the city.
Let’s tally the carnage of this city’s policies:
A chronology of Yelm’s recent water actions:
1. Nov. 7, 2008 Thurston County Judge Chris Wickham upholds the case against the City of Yelm and says “appropriate provisions” for potable water supplies must be determined by the city by the time of final plat approval in developments.
2. On June 12, 2009, the City of Yelm finally made public their long-awaited Draft Water System Plan [then click “Utilities & Streets”, then “Water Plan Update”], which still has not been approved by Depts. of health or Ecology.
3. On July 20, 2009 Dept. of Ecology commented on the McMonigle water right & REVERSED the decision of the Thurston County Conservancy Board approving that Water Right Chnage Application.
4. On August 14, 2009, the City of Yelm announced the withdrawal of their Mitigated Determination of Non-significance (MDNS) due to lack of acquiring water rights.
5. On October 20, 2009, the City of Yelm received a letter from the Washington State Dept. of Health making two comments about Yelm’s Water System Plan (WSP) that are detrimental to Health approving the city’s WSP.
6. On October 26, 2009, Mayor Ron Harding wrote a letter to private citizen Alice McMonigle to condemn her water rights with the city’s intent to acquire those rights through eminent domain.
7. On November 10, 2009, the Yelm City Council approved Ordinance 914 unanimously and without discussion to begin the condemnation of the McMonigle Water Rights in order to acquire them for the city’s use, with City Administrator Badger saying the city has spent $200,000 in legal fees on this issue alone.
This is on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the city had not been paid in fees and taxes with the default of Thurston Highlands.
The downright negligent decisions and lack of candor from this city’s officials is absolutely astounding!
The NVN Poll Question of the Week asks:
Do you think the City of Yelm should be seizing private water rights for the long-term benefit of the community?
80% say NO to date.