Planning commission ignored residents’ views

OlympiaNovember 6, 2012 

A recent Olympia Planning Commission decision ignored residents’ concerns about proposed rezoning. Nine acres off Ninth and Boulevard are currently zoned RM 4-8, permitting no more than eight single-family dwellings per acre. Owners requested rezoning to RM 18. Currently the area has four to five single-family homes per acre.

RM18 is a misnomer, since it’s possible to build 24 multi-family dwellings per acre under this zoning. Twenty area residents attended a joint Olympia/Thurston County Planning Commission meeting, expressing concerns re: proposed rezoning. Twelve residents spoke against the proposal, citing traffic, safety, wildlife, noise, vandalism, harm to neighborhood character, and inappropriateness of apartment buildings over-looking local cemetery. Letters were also sent to the committee.

In a subsequent meeting, OPC addressed a letter from a local business park owner expressing concern about increased traffic passing through the property to avoid an existing traffic bottleneck at Boulevard and Pacific. An Olympia city staff member callously recommended they get speed bumps, even though the business owner already installed speed bumps, which didn’t the resolve problems. Olympia staff not already knowing this information is unconscionable. OPC chair Amy Tousley repeatedly pushed the discussion and revote following initial impasse, until the result matched her own vote.

None of the board members lives in the neighborhood, thus they’ll be unaffected by the radical changes brought to the area by a projected 350 new residents and resulting traffic snarls.

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