http://www.yelmonline.com/articles/2009 ... 417530.txt
Published: Monday, March 2, 2009 3:43 PM PST
Megan Hansen, Nisqually Valley News
Yelm Mayor Ron Harding testified in Olympia Tuesday against a Senate bill that, he says, is directed at the city.
Senate Bill 5867 would require municipalities to prove water availability at the time of preliminary plat approval.
Several questions were raised during the morning hearing, including where the bill originated.
Wording in the bill is very similar to that of a recent Superior Court ruling in channeler JZ Knight?s lawsuit against the city, Harding said.
?I think it?s intended to do the same as the lawsuit (filed by Knight),? Harding said. ?If the goal is to stop growth in certain communities, I believe that bill would do it.?
Knight?s original appeal to the city was that water needed to be proven at ?preliminary plat approval? stage.
A recent ruling stated it needed to be proven at final plat approval.
The case is being appealed by the city because they felt it was too vague.
?Ms. Knight had nothing to do with the bill whatsoever,? said Steve Klein, Knight?s spokesman. ?The case in Yelm has gotten the attention of legislators.?
Klein also wanted to clarify that the intent with Knight?s lawsuit was never to stop growth.
?Ms. Knight is not anti-growth,? Klein said. ?I want to make that very clear.?
The Department of Ecology agrees with the general direction of the bill, testified Ken Slattery.
Preliminary plat approval stage may be right for some plats that are developing right away, but not for others, he said.
?Site development is the appropriate time.?
More than five people and organizations signed up to speak in opposition to the bill, including Harding.
Kathleen Collins from the Washington Water Policy Alliance said the stage where water is proven should be farther down in the process.
?A lot of preliminary plats apply for water and then just sit,? she said. ?To say you have to determine water at an early stage causes cities to bank water.?
?This issue deserves a lot of discussion.?
Harding highlighted the $15 million in improvements the city has made in the last four years.
?All those improvements have been facilitated by growth,? Harding said. If the bill had been adopted four years ago those improvements wouldn?t exist.
A general concern is that development would flee outside the urban growth area.
?This could have a chilling effect on the development community when we can least afford it,? said Julie Nichols from the Building Industry Association of Washington.
Thousands of bills are presented during the legislature, and only a small handful make it to the floor.
?I can?t imagine the bill would go forward in its current form,? Harding said. ?The bill just masks an underlining problem of water availability.?
?We need to work on providing water to communities growing under the GMA (Growth Management Act).?