The city of Yelm will hold a public hearing next week for a planned 60-unit apartment complex located behind Walmart at the corner of 170th Street and Old Yelm-McKenna Road.
The hearing for the Nisqually Valley Apartments development will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16 on Zoom.
“It’s a big, rectangle property that they’re going to build this complex on,” said Casey Mauck, assistant planner with the city of Yelm.
Mauck said the developers have some issues to address, given some of the environmental concerns that come with the property.
There is a high-groundwater hazard area on the property, which according to critical-area regulations can’t be developed in, Mauck said. The hazard area means the land can be prone to flooding since the groundwater is located close to the surface.
“(The developers) asked us if they could just put a fence around it and make it a dog park,” Mauck said. “That’s definitely doable and it’s a great way to protect these environmentally critical areas, because you’re not building structures in there, but it’s now something that can be protected, used and enjoyed by residents without harming this protected area.”
Mauck said the dog park would be “a great amenity” for the future residents of the complex, but a decision will be made following the public hearing.
The developers will have to go through a public hearing with the city’s hearing examiner, Mauck said. He will put out a notice of decision, and after that the project will go through the civil-plan review, which is when the developers submit their engineering plans, followed by the building permit application.
The hearing is a chance for property owners in the area, or concerned citizens, to not only hear more about the planned development, but it also gives them an opportunity to share feedback and concerns, Mauck said.
She said the project will go to the hearing examiner, who is a land-use attorney, because it was earmarked as a larger project, so it will require more oversight, Mauck said.
The hearing will act as the termination of the land-use review period, which includes an environmental review for factors like potential traffic congestion. If it’s decided the development can continue as planned, then the project will move on to next steps.
“One of the things that the hearing examiner looks at is the environmental checklist that the applicant filled out, that (the city) then reviewed,” Mauck said. “So part of what goes to the public hearing, and helps the hearing examiner make his decision, is that the environmental review already happened.”
With his decision, the hearing examiner will create a list of mitigating conditions the developers must meet that arise from the land-use review as well as from the comments and concerns of Yelm citizens.
“Whether or not people choose to comment, it’s even just a good opportunity to listen and just to learn what’s coming forward in the community, so that you’re not surprised when you drive by 60 apartment units behind Walmart,” Mauck said of the hearing. “It’s a chance to stay informed and to allow yourself to have a voice if you do have concerns.”
People can register for the hearing online at us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_TAz5Z_28SKKNrjX-c7Rc5w.