Reprinted here with the authors’ permission:
By Andrew and Cynthia Smith
I read with interest the article by Megan Hansen in the Dec. 24 issue of the Nisqually Valley News, Court fight over Yelms denial of occupancy heads into another year.
I had not read it until Dec. 29 as I was unaware that an article had been written about my familys house situation.
While I appreciate the coverage and the acknowledgement that this horrible, and completely avoidable, situation we find ourselves in with City of Yelm officials is being drug into yet another year, I would have appreciated an opportunity to comment, as it appears City of Yelm officials had the opportunity to provide their input.
Hansen ends the article by stating that the argument is over whether the Smiths were fully aware of the booster pump requirements.
That is the City of Yelms position, and what they want the public to know. I will state unequivocally here, for the record, that my wife and I were not aware of the booster pump requirements.
I would ask you, what sane and rational person would build a $400,000 house on a piece of ground knowing that they would not be able to occupy it?
The city would have you believe that I entered into a game of chicken with them and assumed they would flinch, acquiesce, and allow me to move into my home when it was completed.
I do not have the kind of money to enter into a $400,000 game of chicken. I am a simple man by simple means, a career Army soldier who wanted nothing more than to build a dream home for his family.
What city officials would not tell you for your article is how they unilaterally and illegally altered the final plat amendments on the Palisades West subdivision to change the requirement for a booster pump station from a certificate of building, to a certificate of occupancy.
They would also not tell you how they violated city code by not having the booster pump station job bonded at the time of final plat approval.
They would not tell you that their first argument for denying me occupancy was over fire safety concerns, concerns immediately mitigated by Southeast Thurston Fire Authority Chief Rita Hutcheson in a letter dated April 2009 with her recommendation to allow the Smiths to move into their home.
City officials would not tell you that, once the argument was mitigated, they argued they believed my home was a model home which allowed them to issue a building permit but not an occupancy permit.
After executing a public records request for my building permit application I had to do so because city officials would not freely give me a copy of my building permit I saw that it clearly stated the home was a custom home for Andrew and Cynthia Smith; the building permit application said nothing about a model home or anything that would lead city officials to believe that it was anything other than a private, single-family dwelling.
With that argument shot down, the city made sensational claims that adding my home to the Yelm water and sewer systems would threaten the water quality and safety of every home in Yelm.
I say sensational because, at the time, it already was connected to city water and sewer.
In response, my wife and I paid more than $7,000 to hire a well-known, respected, professional engineer who worked with the City Public Works Department to draft alternative plans; plans approved by the Washington State Board of Health, that would completely mitigate any public health or safety concerns City of Yelm officials may have had.
Those plans were provided to Yelm city officials and were to be presented to the Yelm City Council a six-month process that my wife and I undertook to attempt to solve this situation administratively only to have the Yelm City Council indefinitely table our plat amendment hearing.
When the council decided to reconvene on the issue in March 2010, I was not allowed to speak, and it disapproved my request based on the grounds that I failed to demonstrate how them approving my permit for occupancy would benefit all the citizens of Yelm.
City of Yelm officials would not tell you that the legal team they retain is on a pay per use contract. In other words, the more heavily engaged and heavily utilized the legal team is, the more they get paid. This type of financial incentive encourages the Yelm legal team to enter and keep the City of Yelm in litigation and undoubtedly impacts recommendations they make to city officials and to council.
But, they wouldnt want you to know that. They wouldnt want you to know that this legal team drafted a document and encouraged my wife and I to sign it that would completely absolve the City of Yelm of any water or sewer problem that occurred anywhere in the city at anytime, past, present or future, and shifted that responsibility to my wife and I.
No, they wouldnt have wanted you to know these things, and you wouldnt have received both sides of the story without talking to both parties involved.