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Yelm’s water connections limited after Hearing Examiner’s development approval –
Half of city’s 240 remaining water connections go to 1 builder,
City is still awaiting potential additional water rights!


Hearing Examiner approves 118 residential lot development

The City of Yelm’s Community Development Dept. released the approval of the Hearing Examiner approving (subject to conditions) of a “subdivision of a 19+ acre parcel into 118 single-family residential lots. The property is located at 9306 Mountain View Road S.E. between Mountain View Road and Killion Road, approximately 1,000 feet north of Yelm Avenue West (SR 510).”

  • Editor’s note: While the Hearing Examiner conditionally approved this development, “the City recommends denial of the present preliminary plat application as it cannot now find that water will be reasonably available upon final plat approval.
  • Tami Merriman, Associate Planner for the City of Yelm, provided this response for publication to this blog about another applicant’s project for the Nisqually Landing Apts., “The site plan review application is submitted and in review.  While no determination has been made, the City will most likely be able to make a concurrency finding for water as the application, if approved, is valid for 18 months.  50 apartments would require approximately 38 water connections, as multifamily units use less water than a single family home.  With our current water connections, we anticipate having adequate number of connections at the time of development.”  
  • The key conditions are as follows (see bold highlights):

The primary issue concerning preliminary plat approval concerns the City’s ability to provide potable water and fire flow to the site at final plat approval. The City is the sole water purveyor within the City limits. Since 1994 the City has recognized the need for and has attempted to acquire new water rights to serve development within the City. In 2010 the Washington State Department of Ecology (ECY) approved additional water rights that would have allowed the City to serve the present plat and other development within City limits. However, ECY’s approval was appealed. Said appeal was denied by the State Pollution Control Hearings Board and Thurston County Superior Court. However, the State of Washington Supreme Court in the case of Sarah Foster v. The Department of Ecology, et. al., 184 Wn. 2d 465 (2015), reversed the decisions of ECY, the Board, and the Superior Court. As a result the City has not acquired additional water rights, and as of the date of the preliminary plat hearing (July 9, 2019), has only 240 water connections available for new development. The proposed preliminary plat would consume 118 of said connections, approximately half thereof. Thus, it is questionable whether the City could provide water serve to all plat lots at the time of final plat approval unless it obtains additional water rights.

“The Washington State Legislature adopted the 2018 Streamflow Restoration Act in response to the Supreme Court decision. The Act requires ECY to issue new water rights for up to five pilot projects for the purpose of monitoring and reporting the effectiveness providing of out-of-kind mitigation for new water rights. ECY selected the City of Yelm as one of the pilot projects, and the City is working diligently to update its water rights application. The City anticipates submittal of such application in 2019. The City will then review and update its concurrency policy as it relates to approval of preliminary subdivisions. The City believes that it will have water available at the time of new demand. However, the City recommends denial of the present preliminary plat application as it cannot now find that water will be reasonably available upon final plat approval.

The City will file a new water rights application in the near future in accordance with its already approved, pilot project. Therefore, it is more probable than not that adequate water will be available at final plat approval. Such finding is based on the specific characteristics of the proposed preliminary plat that includes a likely two to three year period prior to applying for and receiving final plat approval. Furthermore, the City has 240 water connections presently available.

Click here for the Hearing Examiner’s report.

Posted by Steve on July 23, 2019 at 12:01 am | Permalink

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