Upcoming Benefit Car Washes Of Note

There are two upcoming and local fundraising events which are worth mentioning. Both are car washes a week apart, so you’ll have no excuse to come away with a squeaky-clean car.

This Saturday, July 8, from 11 am to 4 pm at the Subway (6541 Sexton Dr NW and the freeway). This is a Car Wash to benefit two Griffin Middle School students.

Emma Messinger and Michael Walther, who are entering 7th Grade this next school year, were nominated by their teachers to attend the Junior National Young Leaders Conference this summer, in Washington, D.C. All donations will be accepted to help send these two to our nation’s capitol. In addition to the car wash, they will be selling cookies and other snacks.

Special thanks to Joe and Cheryl Williams, owners of the Island Market, and for Subway Sandwiches, for their support of this event.

Next Saturday, July 15, from 10 am to 3 pm, the Griffin Fire Fighter’s Association will hold their car wash. Proceeds benefit the Association. This is at the main Fire Station, 3707 Steamboat Loop NW. All donations accepted. And, they’ll have the fire equipment out, so you can take a look at their cool stuff, too.

Spend the Time to Learn About I-933

The “No on 933” campaign has assembled a web site that is well worth visiting, particularly if you are still on the fence regarding Initiative 933. It is located here.

I want to particularly take the opportunity to point out some of the points I believe are especially important to understand.

As a member of the GNA, I was particularly concerned about some of the points made by the No on 933 campaign’s page entitled “It’s Bad for Neighborhoods.”

  • I-933 Will Increase Taxes and Cut Community Services
  • I-933 Threatens Property Rights
  • Say Goodbye to Neighborhood Zoning – “The result will be ‘open season’ on neighborhoods across the state.”
  • Say Hello to more Sprawl and Congestion
  • I-933 Is Downright Un-Neighborly – “I-933 does NOT require any notice to neighbors before the regulations are waived.”
  • I-933 changes no “eminent domain” laws

I made a point also to read the page entitled “Debunking the Backers.”

Well worth also mentioning is this site, which assembled a series called “This Land: The Northwest Property Rights Movement“.

Initiative-watchers are pointing out that this initiative is similar to initiatives currently trying to gather steam in Idaho and Montana. Also similar is the rhetoric being employed: All make a big deal about the abuses of eminent domain. However, none of them do a single thing to address eminent domain. And all three measures use the same bait-and-switch tactic to mislead to voters. For those of you who may be curious about one of the prime movers in the multi-state effort which spawned I-933, this page will give you a great deal chew on.

If you’re as concerned as I am about the possible impacts of this ill-conceived initiative, please help focus the attention of your neighbors, friends and community groups on I-933. This stuff is complicated and the proponents are counting on our being unwilling to spend event the slightest amount of time to become informed voters. It happened in Oregon; let’s not let in happen in Washington, too.

UPDATE: Read the June 23rd article in The Olympian entitled “Land-use initiative attracts protest“.

Read the prior post about I-933, which was posted on this blog, here.

What are your thoughts about I-933? Click on the “Post a Comment” link, below.

Goodbye to the Blueberry Farm? – UPDATED!

Most residents of this area know of the 40-acre blueberry bog on Steamboat Island Road. It is on the right as you drive north on the peninsula in the vicinity of 49th Lane. It has been a U-Pick or free pick community resource for decades. St. Christopher Church’s Annual Blueberry festival began with church members picking at the blueberry bog.

There are two owners of parcels involved in development plans. MC Construction (working for the owners, Michelle and Danaher Dempsey) and an organization calling itself Blueberry Farms, LLC (represented by Michael Welter) is now in the process of gaining approval for 8 large houses to be clustered on the forested upland portion of the blueberry farm. This is that beautiful section of Evergreen woods that you can see emerging from the blueberry fields at the North center of the bog.

Click here to view copies of the two applications associated with these projects.

Developers plan to log the woods, approximately 8 acres of them, which is where the houses will be built.

Last year the developers created a site plan that showed eight home lots plus two large resource parcels (the blueberry fields themselves), which they intended to donate to a nonprofit so that it could remain a community blueberry farm forever.

Unfortunately, at some point and for some reason not known to us, MC Construction changed their mind and submitted development plans that call for the blueberry fields to be divided into two parcels, each of which includes a small portion of high ground so that a house can be built on it.

In other words, the blueberry fields are about to become someone’s back yard.

To see MC Construction’s web page, promoting this project, click here.

A while back, at the time the blueberry farm owner applied for open space tax designation, the County put a public access requirement on the blueberry fields for the purpose of allowing blueberry picking. However, it appears that loophole clauses (which allow exceptions in the event of owner liability concerns, etc.) will make it unlikely that public access will actually occur once the two parcels belong to individual homeowners.

This could happen prior to this years’ picking season.

Please spread the word that our beloved community farm is endangered.

Because the development was submitted as two separate 4-lot short plats rather than one 8-lot long plat, there is comparatively little opportunity for public input.

However, a flood of letters might get their attention.

UPDATED July 1:

Your comments have helped! The County has transferred both applications to the City of Lacey, for review (since Mr. Welter, one of the applicants involved, is also the County’s Director of Development Services).

Please write or e-mail the new planner in charge of the development:
Ryan Andrews, Associate Planner
City of Lacey Community Development
PO Box 3400
Lacey, WA 98509
Phone: (360) 491-5642
Fax: (360) 438-2669
randrews@ci.lacey.wa.us

Mention the two project numbers: 2005103734 and 2005103728

As the City of Lacey to:

  • Be fair and impartial: Start the development approval process over from the beginning.
  • Specify that the blueberry bog be permanently preserved as community open space.
  • Require that the blueberry fields be platted as separate un-developable critical areas tracts.
  • Require a conservation easement for the blueberry fields to be held by a nonprofit or govt. entity

Ask to be added to the notification list.

Ask that your comments be put on the record for all permit applications associated with the projects. Pending permits include road clearing and grading, forestland conversion, short plat, and SEPA determination. There may be others as well.

You may want also to contact MC Construction to let them know how you feel about their change of plans:

MC Construction Consultants, Inc
PO Box 8478
Lacey, WA 98509
(360) 456-6307
julie@mcconstruction.com

UPDATED June 20: Click here for a copy of our flyer regarding this development. Thank you for any assistance you can provide with the distribution of this flyer to your neighbors and to local organizations with which you may be affiliated.

UPDATED June 30: The Thurston County Agricultural Advisory Committee has weighed in with a letter expressing concern over the use and access of the portions of the blueberry farm contained within the two resource parcels of these development applications. Read their letter here.

Thanks for taking the time to preserve what’s good about our neighborhood.

Not All Shellfish Harvesting is Good for the Sound

It is recognized that healthy shellfish beds are a sign of a generally healthy shoreline. Along our shorelines, residents enjoy not only recreational clamming, but many homeowners either lease their shorelines to shellfish harvesters or seed their shorelines themselves. However, not all harvesting methods are created equal. In particular, Griffin Neighborhood Association member Paul Allen has brought attention to the effects of intensive geoduck harvesting. What he has discovered vividly demonstrates the undesirable effects of intensive aquaculture, both in the short term, in the form of reduced recreational value of the shoreline and in increased risks to public safety, but also in the long-term deterioration of shoreline health and water quality.

Before you lease your shoreline or engage in intensive geoduck harvesting yourself, give some consideration to others who live along and use the shorelines and the ill effects of your harvesting operation on the health of the Puget Sound. In at least one instance, also, we are hearing from a real estate professional the result of intensive geoduck harvesting will be diminished property value.

According to Paul Allen, “From a purely economical standpoint, I will earn more equity over 4-5 five years by keeping my shoreline as pristine and desirable as possible, than I ever could by degrading it for the purpose of short term financial gain associated with intensive geoduck farming.”

We’ll continue to pass more information on to visitors of our web site at http://www.griffinneighbors.org/ as we obtain it.

Read more about the effects of intensive geoduck harvesting on one community’s shoreline at Save Our Shoreline.

UPDATE: Here’s an additional web site, from a group near Zangle Cove, which details the issues around commerical geoduck farming.

More information on the overall state strategy to protect shellfish areas in Puget Sound is available on the Puget Sound Action Team’s Web site.

Unsustainable growth is easier than the more intelligent alternative

The headline “Growth vs. Sound’s Health” (The Olympian, April 30, 2006) speaks volumes about the problem of growth management. There is no growth – no long-term, sustainable growth – without a healthy Puget Sound. I add to that list healthy groundwater supplies and rural habitat.

I realize the value of my property only exists in my ability to some day find a buyer for it. If I allow development that will despoil groundwater, remove animal habitat or pollute the sound so severely as to kill off most aquatic life, the value of my property will decline. We will have killed the goose that laid the golden egg; the very things that attracted us to this spot will be gone.

Like many of The Olympian’s readers, my property is my home. It’s where my family and I live, and not merely a parcel I own from afar and from which I will some day log every stick of lumber and sell off for development of high-density housing.

The pro-development position of politicians such as Kevin O’Sullivan and the overheated rhetoric of the farm bureau and Olympia Master Builders lack any vision for a future beyond the next election cycle or the next year’s profit margins.

Unsustainable growth is easy. Sustainable growth is the more intelligent approach. If it really does come down to “Growth vs. Sound’s Health,” then we’ve already squandered our property values and it’s just a matter of time before some of us will be left holding the bag with all roads leading out of Thurston County.

Mark Messinger, Olympia
reprinted from The Olympian, May 16, 2006

Evergreen Students Solicit Support for Composting Toilet Project

My name is Jillian Simpson and I am a sophomore at The Evergreen State College in the Ecological Agriculture program. This quarter we are studying composting systems. Two other students and I (Stephanie Techner, a junior, and Christine Burgess, a graduating senior) are working on an independent project to install a composting toilet.

Although students have tried to install a composting toilet for many years on campus, this is the first time it has been approved across the board. In the past, students have only been granted the right to install a composting toilet as a demonstration or educational toilet, and the public would not have access to it. Our project has been approved to install the composting toilet in the community garden.

The community garden is an area of the 24-acre organic farm that is designated for use by community members and students to grow their own food, and there is currently no toilet facility available nearby. The composting toilet system that is allowed by law is expensive and we currently are short on funds.

Our system is being purchased from National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), who has agreed to discount the toilet by $598.00. The Thurston County Health Department has a rebate offer once the toilet is installed, for $350.00. This leaves us with a minimum cost of $1046.00 for the toilet system.

We have designed a permanent structure to house the composting toilet system in which, according to permitting, must be constructed of new, rather than recycled materials. We designed the structure to find the lowest cost option while still allowing for expansion and portability, to meet the needs of future generations. The school has donated solar panels and minimal funds for building materials. The structure will be constructed by students in the Practices of Sustainable Agriculture program who will be educated about proper building techniques. We have requested and received donations and are holding a fundraiser for the remaining costs of the building materials.

The purpose of this communication is in request of your financial assistance, or your assistance with informing others who can assist us financially. The installation of this composting toilet will benefit you directly by providing you with assurance that students and community members will be educated about ecological methods of managing their waste. It will also assure that community garden attendees will have composting toilet facilities nearby.

We are really addressing a major problem: More often we are educated about natural foods and then we avoid our waste by flushing it away. Inside our structure will be educational material pertaining to topics such as: ecological and human health risks associated with using the conventional human waste system, and information and directions for home composting toilet options.

We planned on having the project completed by the end of the quarter, which is June 9th 2006. Because of the brevity of our timeline, our lack of funds, and the importance of this project, we are requesting for your consideration in assisting us. The total amount of funds we are lacking is $1046.00.

Contributions would be tax deductible if desired.

If you can assist, please contact either myself, Jillian Simpson, at (360) 292-0231, or our academic advisor, Dr. Steven Scheuerell, at (360) 866-6000 ext. 6063.

Thank you again, for taking the time to review our request.

Congressman Brian Baird to Hold Online Town Hall Meeting Wednesday, May 24

Congressman Brian Baird will be holding his first online town hall meeting, or e-town hall, this Wednesday, May 24th from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PST. Baird is encouraging interested citizens to submit questions in advance by visiting his website, www.house.gov/baird and clicking on “E-Town Hall.”

You can then participate live by going to his website from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PST on Wednesday, May 24.

If you are unable to participate in the live e-town hall, a full transcript of the online town hall meeting will be available on his website at the conclusion of the meeting.

Taylor Shellfish Seed Sales in May, June, July and August

Taylor Shellfish Farms will hold not one, but four shellfish seed sales this summer. If you have beachfront property, you may be interested in growing your own oysters, clams, mussels and geoduck.

The sales in Shelton are all from 8:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M. and are on May 27th, June 24th, July 22nd, and August 19th.

Click here for driving directions.

Click here for price lists, growing methods, FAQs and much more.

Taylor Shellfish Farms reminds residents that they can be a friend of Puget Sound with these steps:

  • Get involved in local shoreline and growth management planning
  • Maintain your septic system in good working order
  • Collect and dispose of pet waste in areas where it can not wash into surface waters
  • Fence your horses or cows out of streams
  • Recycle used motor oil and dispose of household hazardous wastes at appropriate facilities, not in your yard or septic system.

Thurston County Kicks Off Its “No on 933” Campaign

Initiative 933 is a costly scheme that would force communities to either unfairly waive important neighborhood safeguards, or pay special interests potentially hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to comply with the law.

According to the Community Protection Coalition, “It’s simple: if I-933 passes, special interests win, and taxpayers lose.”

The Community Protection Coalition is staging a kickoff event for their “No on 933” campaign on Thursday, May 25th at 6:30 pm at the First Christian Church, 701 Franklin St. SE, Olympia. Click here for a map to First Christian Church.

If passed, I-933 would:

  • Costs taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, for years to come
  • Allows government to waive rules that protect our communities – to benefit special interests
  • Creates loopholes for irresponsible development (and more traffic!) that will harm our quality of life now and for future generations
  • Takes away a neighborhood’s right to protect themselves and their property
  • Leads to bureaucratic chaos and endless lawsuits

I-933 in brief:

  • Requires state and local governments to exempt certain property owners from any land use, zoning or environmental law adopted or changed since the beginning of 1996, unless government pays the property owner for complying with the law.
  • Requires communities to give exemptions — or pay with your tax dollars — for logging rules, shoreline protections, water-use laws, and key safeguards that keep toxic chemicals out of rivers, streams, and Puget Sound.
  • I-933 is very similar to Referendum 48, the ill-conceived measure that was rejected by 60 percent of Washington’s voters in 1995.

I-933 costs too much

I-933’s payoffs for irresponsible development will cost millions of already over-stretched taxpayer dollars – money that could be used for funding for public services like schools, roads and public safety.

I-933 creates special interest loopholes

I-933 makes communities choose: either pay special interests to comply with the fundamental laws that protect our quality of life, or give those special interest waivers so they don’t have to play by the same rules the rest of us do.

I-933 harms quality of life

I-933 will result in the kind of sprawling, irresponsible developments that increase traffic congestion and overwhelm local education, public safety and other services we all depend upon.

I-933 actually threatens property rights

I-933’s “waive or pay” requirements say irresponsible development could occur almost anywhere, regardless of neighborhood standards.

And remember: Although I-933’s proponents will try to make the link, I-933 changes no “eminent domain” laws in the State of Washington.

If you have any questions regarding the Protect Communities Coalition kickoff or to RSVP please email dan@protectcommunities.org or call (206)323-0520.

Click here for the Protect Communities Coaltion web site.
Click here to read our previous blog posting on this initiative.

May 17th Workshop Focuses on Keeping Resident Well Water Safe

The Thurston County Department of Public Health and Social Services is conducting a free workshop called “Keeping Your Well, Well” on May 17 to help county well owners keep their drinking water safe.

The workshops are designed to help residents:
> Identify potential pollution sources in and around their well.
> Eliminate potential pathways for contaminates to enter their drinking water.
> Learn how to test their well for contaminants.

Wednesday, May 17, 7 pm to 9 pm
Rochester Primary School , 7440 James Rd. SW

Click here for a map to this location.

To register: call (360) 754-4111, TDD (360) 754-2933; or e-mail venninj@co.thurston.wa.us.

Click here for the informational page about this workshop on the Thurston County web site.

Click here for a variety of materials on drinking water quality available from the Thurston County Public Health & Social Services Department.