Planning Commission to Meet May 3 at 7 pm – Agenda Includes Critical Areas, Rezoning and Cluster Development

The Thurston County Planning Commission will be meeting Wednesday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. Among other items on their agenda will be “Critical Areas – Reasonable Use Exception”, “Cluster Development”, and “Rural Rezoning – follow up on sub-areas.” These are all “hot topics” with many GNA members.

Click here to retrieve a copy of the agenda for the meeting.

Low Impact Development Manual – A Valuable Online Resource

Development practices are taking on a striking new look in the Puget Sound region. The Low Impact Development Technical Guidance Manual for Puget Sound contains detailed guidance on how best to design, construct and maintain low impact development (LID) practices. This online manual is targeted to engineers, planners, developers, builders, architects, landscape architects and other technical staff who design, review, permit and build using LID practices. However, it’s well worth reading if you are in the planning stages of any kind of development effort in our area.

Research shows that conventional development practices do not fully protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and other aquatic resources from the adverse effects of development and stormwater runoff. According to the Puget Sound Action Team (an office of the Governor), “Low impact development is a stormwater management and land development strategy applied at the parcel and subdivision scale that emphasizes conservation and use of on-site natural features integrated with engineered, small-scale hydrologic controls to more closely mimic pre-development hydrology.”

Click here to read more about Low Impact Development and to download a copy of the LID Guidance Manual. A link is also available on our “Links” page.

Department of Ecology Releases Pollution Study for Tributaries to Totten and Eld Inlets

GNA members at our Annual Meeting on March 8, 2006 viewed a presentation by representatives of the Washington State Department of Ecology. The presentation was of a report on water temperatures and the levels of fecal coliform bacteria in four tributaries to Totten Inlet (Pierre, Burns, Kennedy, and Schneider creeks), and two tributaries to Eld Inlet (McLane and Perry creeks).

The report presented was a “TMDL” or “Total Maximum Daily Load” study. GNA members were told that TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can tolerate and still be considered healthy.

One of the immediate results of high levels of fecal coliform bacteria is the potential to pollute shellfish beds.

The report makes a particular point of identifying the source of fecal coliform bacteria for these area streams: livestock, failing private septic systems and pet waste. The primary solutions to address the problem of this kind of pollution is directly within the control of homeowners in our area.

There are two documents of particular interest regarding this issue, on the Department of Ecology web site. The first is this document, which is a Quality Assurance Project Plan published in May 2004. The second is this document, presented to the GNA in March, which is the Water Quality Improvement Report. This second document would be of particular interest to homeowners living within the watersheds of the creeks within this study area.

What are your concerns about water quality and how are you working to improve water quality in our region? Leave your comments by clicking the link below.

I-933: Reducing Homeowner Rights for the Benefit of Irresponsible Development

Initiative 933 is not a”Property Fairness Act” at all. If passed I-933 would, instead, dramatically reduce the legal rights of communities to protect themselves from harmful actions. Growth management, logging, shoreline protections, and protections of drinking water quality and air quality would be jeopardized. Here in the Griffin area, we are not solely “property owners,” but homeowners. We oppose I-933 because of how its passing would eliminate our rights to have a say in how our community will grow and how we will protect our property and quality of life.

How can this be? Promoters of this initiative tell us it only defends reasonable property rights against government intrusion. It does this by forcing local governments to either pay landowners for claims of diminished property values due to land use laws or not enforce those laws at all. All of Washington’s forestry laws, its shoreline protections and many water laws would not be enforced.

As homeowners in the Griffin area, we know our area is going to continue to experience increasing development pressure. At the same time, we recognize the value of our property is affected by the quality of life here in western Thurston County. Imagine the impact on your property values if developers were permitted to foul our aquifers and despoil our shorelines. Think about the effect of unfettered development which does not keep pace with schools and roads. This initiative does not lead to “fairness.” Instead, it will eliminate our ability to safeguard our health, safety and quality of life.

Elsewhere in Thurston County, we are already feeling the effects of growth. For example:

  • In the last three years, the city of Lacey has used up its 20 year water supply
  • Because of polluted runoff, Henderson Inlet was closed to shellfish harvesting.
  • An updated Comprehensive Plan failed to protect even one-third of the County’s working farms from expensive rural development.

We do not want the peninsula between Eld and Totten inlets to join this list.

None of us like government intrusion into our lives. All of us know that we need to hold our elected representatives’ feet to the fire on matters related to growth. We know there are examples of unreasonable land use regulations, but we recognize there is no panacea for the many issues which confront rural homeowners living on the fringes of the urban growth boundaries of Thurston County. I-933 is not a “magic bullet” for the problem of over-regulation. Instead, it replaces the will of the people with the short-term profit motive of reckless developers.

We are intelligent enough to understand the implications of an initiative disguised by its promoters as the “Property Fairness Act.” This is, in fact, “The Irresponsible Developer’s Initiative,” bought and paid for by interests that don’t share our values and don’t live in our neighborhoods.

Happily, we can learn from Oregon’s experience with their own similar initiative. In that state, Measure 37 was approved by voters who didn’t understand its impacts. Since its passage in 2004, 2500 claims have been made for development of tens of thousands of acres. Governments in Oregon have been forced to fail to enforce reasonable, common-sense protections for public health and safety.

Washington voters defeated another initiative of this kind, called Measure 48, ten years ago.

This time around, let’s not even sign the petition to place I-933 on the ballot.

Learn more about I-933:
Click here for the Community Protection Coalition
Click here for Futurewise
Seattle Times article: “Preserve land-use standards that protect our families”
Seattle Times editorial: “Property rights a slam dunk? Not so fast”
July 2005 Summary on effects of Oregon’s Measure 37
August 2005 update on the effect of Oregon’s Measure 37 on rural communities and public health
October 2005 ruling on constitutionality of Oregon’s Measure 37
March 2006 upholding constitutionality of Oregon’s Meaasure 37

What are your opinions regarding the aims of I-933 and the tactics of its promoters? Click on the POST A COMMENT link below to leave your comments.

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