Yelm City Hall

Yelm City Hall

The city of Yelm hearing examiner is expected to make a decision sometime this week on subdividing a 19.5-acre piece of land between Mountain View Road Southeast and Killion Road for development.

Back in August 2018, Mitchell Development II LLC, a Sumner-based development firm, applied for a preliminary subdivision application with the intent of dividing and developing the land into 118 single-family residential lots. The property is currently owned by Barb Hutchison.

The application is pending city review and, because of its size and the proximity of construction to other residential areas, is likely to undergo heavy scrutiny by the city. 

The hearing examiner held a public meeting Tuesday morning, July 9, to receive public comments on the application. The public commenting period for this project has since ended.

During the public hearing, Tami Merriman, associate planner with the city of Yelm, said the city recommended the hearing examiner deny the subdivision application, citing that they could not find concurrency for the site’s water needs. 

“The city finds that the applicant is not established, that the subdivision adequately provides for public health and safety, and so forth, as it’s not possible to be reasonably certain at this time that potable water will be available at the time the homes will be constructed on the lots, the city and the community development department recommends that the preliminary subdivision be denied,” Merriman said during the public meeting. 

In total, one person spoke in support of moving forward with the subdivision development during the public hearing and two individuals opposed moving forward with the subdivision. 

Proponents argued that the city should move forward on a first-come, first-served basis with regards to water rights. Opponents cited worries with developer transparency, rodent fencing and gopher migration due to construction. All opponents said, for the record, that they weren’t in opposition to the project as a whole. 

The city also laid out a list of recommended conditions if Mitchell was able to find concurrency with its water. This list includes considering the firm’s determination of nonsignificance, requiring the purchasing of additional water rights from the Washington State Department of Ecology and requirement of potable water by the time construction begins. 

Matt Weber, a civil engineer representing Mitchell Development, said the city has 240 available connections with more on the way, and that the development would only need roughly 118 of those rights. 

“It is a water rights issue. Yelm does have the infrastructure to provide water. There are mains there with adequate fire flow and potable water service. It’s a matter of the water rights,” he said during the public hearing. 

Weber agreed with the city’s conditions on construction, but dissented on the city’s recommendation to deny their application. He also mentioned that a similar plat had been approved by the city back in 2005, but it never went forward. 

The average lot will be roughly 4,350-square feet. The firm plans on constructing a stormwater system, two parks with playgrounds and off-street parking. Sidewalk and transportation improvement plans are expected. 

The new development will be accessible from either Killion or Mountain View Road.

According to materials provided by the applicant, there have been no notable signs of Mazama pocket gophers on the site. 

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