I submitted this comment to the public hearing of the Thurston County Planning Commission last night:
On October 10, 2007, I came before the Thurston County Planning Commission with my comments to the Comprehensive Plan update,
as did others. After hearing from the public, the Thurston County Planning Commission asked Yelm Community Development Director Grant Beck to step up to answer questions.
These questions from the Thurston County Planning Commission then are as valid today, so I submit them in total with my updated comments in CAPS.
1. The City of Yelm has specified level of service (LOS) F in the Comp. Plan since 1995?
2. The concurrency mark was set in 1998 where LOS D is the Regional Plan and must be followed.
What steps have been taken to get roads to LOS D since 1998?
Beck: The Yelm Loop (Bypass) & the inner Loop (side connector streets)
3. The Bypass is not funded, so let’s eliminate that from the discussion.
Beck: It’s out of our control, as the largest amount of traffic, 63% comes from outside of the city and its UGA.
Commissioners: We want to see your surveys on the 63% coming from the county and will examine traffic from SE Thurston & Pierce Counties impacting Yelm’s arteries, as well, as we are responsible for and need to know what that impact is.
4. So outside of the Loop, nothing has been done to bring LOS down to level D?
Beck: Mumbles with no coherent response.
5. If traffic is out of your control in the City, then why are you still issuing building permits, and to 500 home developments and larger, asked Chris Lane?
Beck: Mumbles again.
6. About the issue of the unfunded Bypass used to mitigate traffic, how much is unfunded.
Beck: about 30 million. We have received $1 million from the government & $33 million for right-of-way acquisition and are working on getting the rest of the funding package next year.
THE CITY OF YELM REQUESTED THE DOT DIVIDE THE 4.3 MILE BYPASS INTO TWO PHASES & TRANSFER THE ENGINEERING & R-O-W FUNDING OF THE LARGER 3.2 MILES OF PHASE 2 OF THE BYPASS TO THE CONSTRUCTION OF PHASE ONE. CONSTRUCTION WILL BEGIN THIS SPRING ON A 1.1 MILE SECTION OF THE BYPASS FROM MUD RUN RD. TO CULLEN RD. JUST EAST OF THE YELM HIGH SCHOOL, BYPASSING ONLY THE HIGH SCHOOL FOR NOW AND PUTTING HEAVY TRAFFIC ON THE SIDE RESIDENTIAL STREETS OF KILLIAN & CULLEN. FUNDING PHASE TWO, WHILE A PRIORITY OF THE STATE LEGISLATURE, HAS BEEN POSTPONED BY THE GOVERNOR TO THE 2021-2023 BIENNIUM. THE LONGER PHASE 2 SECTION ADJOINS A SUPER WAL-MART, WHO USED AN UNBUILT & THEN-UNFUNDED BYPASS TO MITIGATE THEIR TRAFFIC ON THEIR BUILDING APPLICATION.
7. When do you expect construction to start on the Bypass?
Beck: with funding next year, then 2009
Commissioners: and length of construction?
Beck: 2 years
Commissioners: then you expect in 2011 this road will be operational, which is a full 13 years after the concurrency mark was set in 1998. You should have not been using an unfunded Bypass this long to determine mitigation allowing you to continue to approve large developments.
ONLY A 1.1 MILE SECTION OF THE 4.3 MILES IS FUNDED AND WILL BE CONSTRUCTED & EXPECTED TO BE OPERATIONAL IN 2011.
THE 3.3 MILE PHASE 2 IS UNFUNDED WITH NO FUTURE FUNDING DATE.
8. Why was staff (Thurston County) supporting the Yelm plan.
County Staffer Swenson: Yelm did not have a policy change or a text change.
Chris Lane moved and Tom Cole seconded the motion to NOT move forward in approving Yelm’s Transportation & Introduction Chapter updates that would have sent them on to the Board of County Commissioners.
Mr. Lane commented he is a Realtor, although a commercial Realtor, yet he is for responsible development.
He said, “It’s irresponsible if we don’t look at this. It’s irresponsible to add to the problem when you can’t deal with it (Yelm’s traffic) now.”
ON SEPTEMBER 17,2007,
“the Yelm Planning Commission was told by Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) Senior Planner and City of Yelm adviser Kathy McCormick the State officially informed her Yelm’s main arteries are highways of regional significance, which states level of service (LOS) D (the grade given roads based on a traffic analysis) is regional policy on the city’s Highways 507/510.
She stated the Yelm plan is, therefore, in “conflict.”
Ms. McCormick said that Yelm’s Comprehensive Plan Transportation Chapter’s lower LOS F threshold (the lowest grade possible for roads) is NOT consistent with the Washington State Dept. of Transportation (WSDOT) standard or how the Thurston County Comprehensive Traffic Plan is supposed to read.
The City of Yelm has specified level of service (LOS) F in the Comp. Plan since 1995, and the concurrency mark was set in 1998, where LOS D is the Regional Plan and must be followed. Outside of new connector streets and relying on an unfunded Bypass OR PARTIALLY FUNDED BYPASS, little has been done here to achieve concurrency, in almost 10 years, all the while approving mega-developments and accepting applications for more home construction & developments.
The then Thurston County Planning Commission rejected the Yelm Comp Plan and called it “irresponsible.
Planning Commission Minutes of Oct. 10, 2007:
The then-Thurston County Commissioners rejected the recommendation of the own Planning Commission and accepted Yelm Comp. plan in the County’s.
If Yelm’s Comprehensive Plan must be consistent with Thurston County’s, then this issue needs to be addressed yet again.