- Editor’s note: Regarding the city’s recently acquired 640 acres parcel, the Yelm City Council received a briefing from Community Development Director Grant Beck at the January 7th Study Session. While an introductory overview, the council received little information on how contentious this L. I. D. (Local Improvement District) became when former Mayor Harding led the charge in 2006 on behalf of the Thurston Highlands developers, who went bankrupt in late 2008. This 2006 council-approved L. I. D. put a portion of the cost of road improvements at the then-proposed Tahoma Blvd./Yelm Ave. W. intersection onto the backs of adjacent property owners.
- “Thurston Highlands developers Doug Bloom & Steve Chamberlain asked the city for help in funding road improvements necessitated by traffic impacts from their Tahoma Terra developments. Property owners in the impact zone of Tahoma Terra were forced to pay a City Council imposed L. I. D. covering 46% of the costs of road improvements to Yelm Ave. West, Killion & Tahoma Blvd. via mandated property taxes, or almost one-half of the cost of the road improvements, work that should have been borne totally by the developers. Then, property values fell after the 2008 downturn and long-time property owners who were forced into the L. I. D. carried an undue debt load for the roadwork.” Read more
- Mayor Foster unilaterally contracted a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure, leaving the city with an approx. $1.1 million debt
- One of the owners of three major parcels of undeveloped land in the far western portion of the Thurston Highlands development, a very high-profile family in Seattle, made a decision to part with one of their parcels (640 acres), for which they were multiple years behind on property taxes/interest payments. For some unexplained reason, Mayor Foster signed a clandestine contract for a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure on December 29, 2017, leaving the city with the land plus over $1.12 million in debt IF/when the land-owners defaulted. This was all set-up to get them out from under what they owed, so of course they were going to default! Council requested explanations from Foster over the last year and a half, only to be told to wait until the end of 2019 to see if the land-owners would make their payments in full. If in default December 31, 2019, the city would take on the land and the L. I. D/ debt/interest [total amount Yelm owes = $2,194,320]. That occurred, so the council began on January 7th to get their minds around what Mayor Foster has fostered onto the city’s back and budget.
- Councilor Carmody asked, “Where did the Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure come in?”
- Carmody did not get a response and Mayor Foster’s silence was palpable. He KNOWS he was the one who negotiated the contract.
- Why has the council not demanded a straight answer from Mayor Foster?
- The Yelm City Council needs to demand an answer from Mayor Foster as to why he agreed to this contract of a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure and accompanying $2.1 million L. I. D. debt WITHOUT COUNCIL’S AUTHORITY. The mayor’s authority for expenditures without council’s approval is a maximum of $35,000. The laws/regulations of the state and city do not convey to the mayor the authority to unilaterally negotiate and sign this agreement according to: + the RCW [42.30.070, “No governing body of a public agency shall adopt any ordinance, resolution, rule, regulation, order, or directive, except in a meeting open to the public.”] and + the Yelm Protocol Manual [2.02 A 1e, Summary of Council Duties and Responsibilities as Provided in, but not Limited to, the Washington Administrative Code and Revised Code of Washington, Establish Policy, Approve contracts].
- Killion/Yelm Ave. W. property owners were unduly burdened by the city in 2006!
- This blog covered the extremely controversial council sessions that brought this L. I. D. into fruition.
Some excerpts are as follows:
May 24, 2006: YELM CITY COUNCIL HEARS PUBLIC ON PROPOSED LID
“The LID (Local Improvement District) is to provide funding for access roads and road improvements to the Tahoma Terra & Thurston Highland complexes. While the developers would fund what is stated as 60-65% of the project, the balance would be raised through a tax assessment of properties contiguous to the roads under the premise their property values would increase, as well. Many property owners at tonight’s meeting were upset because they thought the developers had agreed to build access roads and Yelm Ave. West improvements themselves when the Thurston Highlands development was proposed to the City. Many expressed that they felt betrayed that the city would consider passing on 35-40% of the funding through an LID to local property owners, when they had understood the developers had already agreed to pay for road improvements as part of the development’s application.
“This meeting filled Council Chambers.
“The public comments fell into two camps: Corporate interests vs. individual property owners.” Read more
June 14, 2006: JUNE 14 CITY COUNCIL MEETING
“The L. I. D. was passed. Council member Bob Isom put forth the motion passing Ordinance No. 847 Killion Road LID Formation after his explanation that he is a property rights advocate yet looking at this project, had to put that stance aside to determine what was best for the City. He stated that the cost differential of passing the LID and completing the road work for $8 million vs. $19 million in projected costs if the road improvements were done piecemeal was what overrode his decision in this case. Not one other comment or question came from Council members and Mr. Isom’s motion carried unanimously.
“The L. I. D. was a slam dunk, as this writer stated previously (see June 13th’s entry on this blog). To underscore again, the proposed road L. I. D. will not improve traffic capacity on Yelm Avenue West because there is no capacity increase. The LID provides for curbs, sidewalks and a center turn-lane for a portion of this street. As we have witnessed on Yelm Ave East, a center turn-lane does not add capacity, rather just assisting with flow. Yelm Ave. East is at capacity now with daily backups from 5 Corners past the Rite Aid in the afternoons and from the 507 light back to the Safeway most mornings. One has to wonder what would have happened if Safeway requested a LID on Yelm Ave. East prior to that end of the road being widened. Perhaps Wal-Mart will request a LID to widen Yelm Ave. East to mitigate their traffic. Stay tuned!
“This LID is now in the hands of the affected property owners to get the best fair market price for their land when the City comes knocking at their door as a buyer (see this writer’s suggestions under June 13th’s entry on this blog).” Read more
June 18, 2006: THOUGHTS ON A SUNDAY MORNING
1. Yelm Ave. LID
“Quoting page 2 of City Development Review Engineer Jim Gibson’s staff Report (then click Upcoming Agenda, then 9a.) dated June 14, 2006 to Mayor Ron Harding, “The developers of Tahoma Terra elected to pursue the formation of a Local Improvement District (LID) to construct the required improvements (Killion Rd. with Yelm Avenue). During initial discussion with staff of the Community Development Department and the Yelm Transportation Committee, the city recommended that the improvements of the LID extend to 93rd Avenue along Yelm Avenue West, and north to the proposed 510 Yelm Loop.”
[Ed. Note: Let there be no mistake, the LID was expanded beyond Tahoma Terra’s Killion intersection application to include the already-approved Yelm High School roadwork under the auspices of saving money, yet unduly burdening the city’s own LID contiguous property owners by expanding the initial LID coverage. Oh, and Tahoma Terra requested the LID because that is an existing approved development. The same developers own the contiguous proposed 5,000 home Thurston Highlands land and the LID is really to mitigate that development’s traffic through Tahoma Terra if and when such is built. They can not say the LID is for Thurston Highlands because that is a yet to be existing/approved complex.]”
October 6, 2009: An apparent Conflict of Interest with the L. I. D. bank surfaced
The current 2020 city council needs to read the conflict of interest to get the big picture. Read more
Click here about the bank’s loan guarantees.
Click here for this Blogger’s questions to Mayor Harding – September 23, 2009. Finally, on September 25, 2009, the Yelm City Council approved Ordinance 910, authorizing the issuance and sale of a local improvement district [L. I. D.] No. 2 bond in the principal amount of $10,139,000.
Mayor Harding championed in 2006 that Yelm’s City Council approve and L. I. D. to finance the Tahoma Terra & Thurston Highlands developments entrance/egress on the backs of the property owners along the route through property taxes. Mayor Foster in 2017 unilaterally signed a contract for a 640 acre parcel plus $1.1 million in debt, now on the backs of Yelm tax payers, as of December 31, 2019. Read more