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
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
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.