Mayor Ron Harding
– Mayor Harding makes one last stand for massive growth during his tenure
With Mayor Harding’s 3rd term coming to an end in December 2017 unless he gets accepted for a job elsewhere prior to that, the community is expressing outrage on social media with the further growth now proposed for Yelm.
– Yelm proposes to add 198 new parcels in the Tahoma Terra Phase II Plat
On Monday, July 25th, a Public Hearing is scheduled to take comments on the proposed expansion of Yelm with 198 new parcels in Tahoma Terra’s Phase II. If approved, this would represent another 1,000 persons added to the population, which would be nearly 10,000 people in Yelm.
* What can YOU do?
The Hearing Examiner’s role on July 25th is to determine if the proposal for 198 new parcels is within Yelm’s existing regulations. While this proposal DOES meet existing qualifications, the Hearings Examiner needs to hear from the community on the many issues facing our town BEFORE he approves this development, i.e. city staffing crisis, police staffing “emergency,” crumbling public works infrastructure, and overpopulated schools on the west end of town. Councilor Molly Carmody says, “Please come to the public hearing to make your voices heard: ‘Is this development good for our community?'”
– Any growth has a major impact on Yelm Community Schools
Former Yelm Community Schools Superintendent Andy Wolf spoke of the burden on growth in the western end of town impacting schools there, with 2 bonds denied by voters to relieve the conditions. Now, Yelm is proposing to put more student strains on the infrastructure of schools on the west side of town that can’t take any more.
– Yelm currently has a staffing “emergency”
During the Yelm City Council session of July 12, Mayor Harding responded to Councilors there was no staffing issue here, yet on the June 29th Study Session video, which I obtained via a Public Documents Request, all 4 Department Heads (Finance, Public Works, Public Safety/Police, Community Dev.) described in detail a staffing “crisis” in each their departments. Community Dev. Dir. Grant Beck’s astute explanation that all of the city’s departments are at the point that if there was another vacancy in any of the departments (caused by injury, retirement, or resignation), the city would be in a very difficult position. Beck underscored that police staffing is at a critical point and requires immediate attention. Indeed, one councilor said the City of Yelm police dept. has a staffing “emergency,” with a lack of an appropriate number of officers for a city of Yelm’s size.
Where is the disconnect with Mayor Harding in saying there is no staffing issue in Yelm?
– “Yelm’s Population Increased by 19 Percent”
“The population of Yelm has grown by 19 percent since 2010, according to estimates released by the Washington State Financial Office last month. Population across the state increased by 1.7 percent in the same time frame,” by Graham Perednia, Nisqually Valley News, July 14, 2016.
– Yelm area citizens voice their concerns on social media
Citizens say Yelm’s infrastructure is unable to support such growth (i.e. traffic, water, sewer, schools).
* Julia Paris on the Nisqually Valley News Facebook page:
We need to become more conscious about managing and governing. progress is great, but it can also go overboard. the beauty of a rustic Yelm was forgone in the name of progress. all the orchards had to convert into cement pavements and roads to accommodate convenience. they could have been preseved (sic) with proper planning. small businesses are pushed out to make room for BOX stores. more taxes and more federal aid??? to support the growth. city mgt scurry about to solve problems they create. more personnel needed to manage it all. what are we really gaining and at what cost? people who have moved to the area to retire find themselves back to where they left. regulations and ordinances are out of control in all levels. in the end, Yelm is a corporation that needs to keep growing itself to become profitable at some point. It is not only our town, it is happening everywhere. if you want to know what is going on, get up and findout from the city council.
Read more comments here.
* Yelm Councilor Molly Carmody comments on Yelm Community Watch
“Folks, the Terra Tahoma developers are proposing an additional 62 houses in their plot [198 parcels in a 2 phased project]. It was originally approved in 2007, but got side-railed during the Recession. Now they’re reapplying and their proposal will be heard by a Hearing Examiner on July 25. His job is to determine whether or not the proposal meets existing Yelm regulations. While it DOES meet existing regulations, he probably isn’t aware of the many issues facing our community now (low city staffing, crumbling infrastructure, and overpopulated schools). Please come to the public hearing to make your voices heard: is this development good for our community? It would add a decent tax base, and shoppers for our businesses, but can we support it, logistically speaking? Yay or nay, speak up!”