– Story Highlights:
* This story has been covered on this blog since 2007,
* Wal-Mart’s 10th anniversary opening in Yelm is today,
* Harding/Council ignored Professional Engineer & public testimony, approved Wal-Mart,
* Yelm’s Traffic Mitigation Plan for Wal-Mart required the bypass to be completed by 2013,
* Yet the bypass was unfunded in Gov. Gregoire’s budget until the 2021-2023 biennium,
* Harding knew he would have no public accountability blow-back,
* To this day, there is still no Bypass to mitigate Wal-Mart’s traffic.
* Yelm lost a QFC grocery store and other small businesses after Wal-Mart opened,
* All of the empty store-fronts here reflect what adding a Wal-Mart does to a community,
* With retail on the downward spiral, will Wal-Mart eventually close their Yelm store?
* City leaders need to be prepared for that eventuality!
– Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Yelm Wal-Mart opening!
How did that store get built here when the issuance of a building permit violated city policy?
The City of Yelm Community Development Dept. recommended back in 2005 & 2006 that the Yelm City Council approve the permit for a Wal-Mart to be constructed in Yelm. There were public hearings and several groups, including “Protect Yelm,” that raised many issues about this store being built here.
– Traffic mitigation was a key concern then:
How would the projected 750+ vehicles a day be handled on Yelm streets?
The City of Yelm’s own Transportation Mitigation Plan for Wal-Mart construction being approved REQUIRED that traffic would be handled via a completed Yelm Bypass WITHIN 6 YEARS!
[If there was no Bypass, required was evidence of funding to build a Bypass to be operational within 6 years of Wal-Mart’s opening, for which there was none!]
Many of the citizens KNEW there would be no funding for a Bypass by 2013 and protested the approval to the Yelm City Council and the city’s Hearings Examiner on these grounds. Yelm officials would not listen nor agree. The city silenced at every turn any public dissent on Wal-Mart being built.
At the time, the City of Yelm had just received the egregious 2006 Jefferson Muzzle Award for their “moratorium on moratoriums” about the public not being permitted to mention Big-Box stores at open-to-the-public comment period in City Council sessions.
So, here we are in 2017, ten years after the Wal-Mart opening and there is still no Bypass to mitigate their traffic and won’t be for at least another 5 years, just as the public predicted and was well-known back in 2007.
Further, the city did not follow their own rules for land use approval plus an MDNS by requiring a connector to 103rd to be constructed by November 22, 2008 to handle Wal-Mart’s traffic. The connector was not constructed until a year later, in 2009:
“When the city approved the construction of Wal-Mart, the superstore was required [by the city] to build the connector.”
“One of the stipulations was that the connector had to be built 18 months after right-of-way was purchased, Beck said [City Community Development Director Grant Beck].”
“Right-of-way acquisition was completed in July 2007.”
“The permit process to allow Wal-Mart to start construction on the connector was completed in December 2008.”
“Once the Yelm Bypass is constructed, the connector will be ripped out and replaced to become part of the bypass,” quoting the Nisqually Valley News (NVN), September 18, 2009.
The leadership of then Mayor Harding and his complicit city councilors disregarded the city’s own policies and procedures to approve a Wal-Mart in Yelm. Though this is not unlike other uninformed/uneducated small-town leaders across America who salivate on the potential of a Wal-Mart’s sales-tax revenue, with blinders on in not seeing the bigger picture of how a Wal-mart entry destroys a small-town, well-documented in new reports. This city was warned by a then very vocal and organized “Protect Yelm” group led by Gregory May, his group then covered extensively by the Nisqually Valley News.
Click here for the Yelm Community Blog entry on Wal-Mart’s Yelm opening 10 years ago today!