City Officials Attend YBA Town Hall Meeting

By Jenna Loughlin jloughlin@yelmonline.com
Posted 6/19/15

The second town hall meeting held by the Yelm Business Association may not have been as well attended as the first, but two people related to Yelm’s vision and comprehensive plans were in …

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City Officials Attend YBA Town Hall Meeting

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The second town hall meeting held by the Yelm Business Association may not have been as well attended as the first, but two people related to Yelm’s vision and comprehensive plans were in attendance and took the time to address the audience.

City of Yelm Community Development Grant Beck had copies of the city’s Comprehensive Plan available both in brochure form and on a series of posters. He gave the audience the opportunity to tell him what they want to see in Yelm over the next 10 to 20 years by writing comments on post-it notes and sticking them to the posters.

“What we’d like you to do is come up and ... take a look at what’s up there right now and just tell us what’s wrong, what needs to be added, what needs to be deleted or what you’d like to add to the Comprehensive Plan,” Beck said.

The suggestions and comments posted will be considered by the Yelm Planning Commission, which had four members in attendance, as it works on updating the plan. Beck asked the 35 or so people in attendance to keep in mind that a change in one part of the plan can cause the necessity for a change elsewhere in the plan.

“Everything is a balance,” he said. “It’s a push me, pull you kind of thing.”

After the audience members had a chance to attach their comments, Beck and Community Development Associate Planner Tami Merriman collected the posters. Before they left, Beck said anyone interested in following the ongoing process can do so via the website www.ci.yelm.wa.us/comprehensive_plan.

YBA Executive Director Dan Crowe said he is pleased with how the city has responded to his communications.

“Overall the people who work for the city, the city’s employees, have been absolutely phenomenal to work with,” he said. “They’ve given us some great feedback.”

The other speaker Tuesday evening was John Owen, who put together a vision plan for the city back in 1995 based on the ideas shared with him by those who came to the public meetings.

“For the time, I think it was pretty cutting edge,” he said. “For a smaller community, a growing community like yours, I think it broke a lot of ground.”

This is a great time to go back and review that vision plan because the city is working to update its comprehensive plan and this is a way to help pave the path for the type of city its residents want it to be in the future.



“It still has a lot of smaller town character that I admired 20 years ago,” Owen said. “Clearly things are growing and your growth projections are pretty high and the traffic through town is pretty crazy. ... It is a good time to take stock of yourselves and think about where you want to be five, 10, 15 years from now.”

Comprehensive, vision and strategic are the three types of planning, he said. A comprehensive plan is mandated by the state and guides a city. A vision plan creates a common idea of the objectives, gets everyone’s picture of the future to align and feeds into the comprehensive plan. A strategic plan states what is going to be done, how those items are going to be done, how much it’s going to cost, how it’s going to be paid for and how the city and its community is going to work together to make it happen.

“It’s really about local and individual abilities to shape the town that you want to have happen and not let somebody else shape it for you,” Owen said. “What’s really important is how you decide. That’s what’s really key here. ... Because the most important thing is that the various sectors of the community are working together.”

He encouraged people to think beyond the comprehensive plan and think about what actions they can take to move the community forward and take charge of its future. He suggested having dialog with the city council along the lines of, “What are the five most important things the city is going to do to improve our community over the next five to 10 years? ... And we’ll tell you how we can help you.”

Terry Kaminski, who is a member of the Yelm Planning Commission and is running for a seat on the Yelm City Council, asked Owen how well he thought the city had followed the vision plan he was a part of. Owen admitted he has not had the chance to drive around as much as he would like to really answer the question, but he did say he thought the city did “quite well.”

“A lot of the stuff in the vision plan takes a long time,” Owen said. “I think the city has pursued a course that has made a lot of sense.”

He noted that one good thing was he did not see anything that has occurred that is counter to what was decided.

During a lengthy question-and-answer portion of the meeting, someone brought up Thurston County’s attempt to pass Title 26, which the county says would consolidate its numerous land use code enforcement regulations into one title but critics say impedes private property rights. Though he said there is not a lot the YBA can do about the issue, Crowe said he supports individual property rights and does not think property should be taken without due process.

However, when an audience member brought up that he was concerned by the ideas shared on the Nisqually Valley News’ Facebook page about what types of businesses community members would like to see open in the East Gateway area across from Walmart, Molly Carmody — who is Crowe’s wife, a YBA board member, a Yelm Planning Commission member and is running for Yelm City Council — responded by saying she thought it would be a “fantastic idea” to have Yelm business owners sign a petition for the city council stating they do not want big box stores or chain restaurants on that property.

Also discussed at the YBA town hall was that it is working on creating a Citizen Advisory Committee that will be headed by YBA board member Bill Hashim, the only board member who is not a business owner. Anyone interested in joining the committee, which Hashim expects to meet at least quarterly with its first meeting sometime in July, should contact the YBA.

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