Yelm City Council votes on EIC design, interlocal agreements

By Jacob Dimond/


Yelm City Council members had a busy session on Tuesday, March 26, as they voted to amend the agreement for conceptual design modifications for the Yelm Education and Innovation Center and approved two interlocal agreements with Thurston County for a 20-year affordable housing plan and for a zoning issue related to a business applicant. 

EIC conceptual design

After the council passed an amendment to the professional services agreement with BCRA for design modifications of the Yelm EIC Building, designers will “flesh out” the conceptual design. The design modifications will not exceed the value of $55,975, and will be funded with leftover grant money.  

“This uses almost the rest of the grant money,” Yelm Public Works Director Cody Colt said at the meeting. “We have a little bit of cushion there in case there are some changes there. At the end, we want to make sure there’s a little bit of space in case there’s any adjustments we need.” 

Councilor Tracey Wood said the council previously talked about this and decided the project wasn’t something that was in the city’s near future. 

“I think how the discussion went, since we already have this grant money, that we go ahead and finish this design. I don’t believe that’s responsible spending of government money, if our intent is to put it on the shelf until a later date,” Wood said. “I’m just wondering if that’s the best move to continue with the design. We aren’t intending on using it for a while, and we’ll more than likely need to go through a design process again.” 

Wood cited projects like the bypass, and its original design and time frame, and how that evolved. He doesn’t want the council to have to revisit the EIC design later and possibly face issues with updated code when it is time to construct the building. 

At a previous council meeting, Mayor Joe DePinto specified that the design from the EIC grant could be utilized for other buildings the City has planned in the future. He said if the council eventually wants to see a new City Hall, they could save money by using the design created with this grant money.

Interlocal agreement between Yelm, Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, County

Yelm City Council authorized DePinto to sign an interlocal agreement between Yelm, Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and Thurston County to complete housing land analysis for all levels of housing in the city, as required by House Bill 1220. 

“In 2021, the Legislature adopted House Bill 1220, which basically requires any city or county that’s planning under growth management to do a housing allocation study to see how many housing units we need to try to accommodate over the next 20 years at all levels of affordability,” Gary Cooper, Yelm’s planning and building manager, said at the meeting. “We got a number of 7,500 housing units that we need to provide in the next 20 years, and within that 7,500, it’s divided up among low income, extremely low income, median income — there are four or five different categories.”

Cooper said that was the first step of the process, which was done in conjunction with all the cities and the county. 

“The second step, we’re required under the same bill to go and evaluate our city to see if we are currently zoned, or have the land capacity, to accommodate those housing units,” Cooper said. “That’s what this is about. It’s a requirement. We have to do it.”

Cooper said by entering the interlocal agreement to have the Thurston Regional Planning Council complete the evaluation and analysis, Yelm would have to pay a “proportionate share of the cost of that project,” or $5,433. 

Interlocal agreement between Yelm and County

Yelm City Council unanimously approved an interlocal agreement between the City and Thurston County to authorize Yelm to complete the permitting process for a potential business located on property partially zoned in Thurston County. 

Cooper said the potential business would be located at 407 E. Yelm Ave., and added that most cities run into a situation where a business or residence is situated in both the city and the county. 

“It’s a vacant lot right now. There’s a proposal to do a drive-thru coffee. It’s next to the self-service car wash,” Cooper said. “We need to get authorization from the county to be able to permit this project fully. We don’t want to put the applicant through a process where half the property is complying to City of Yelm regulations and the other half is complying with county regulations.” 

He added that the Thurston County Board of Commissioners already approved the agreement. Yelm City Council unanimously approved the proposal.