The request of the North Thurston School District to have rural agricultural lands rezoned to allow school construction is a blatant effort to evade the intent of the Growth Management Act. New schools should not be built in remote locations.They should be built along the high-density corridors, so that students, faculty and classfied staff have access to frequent transit service.
First and foremost, the district should be put on notice that its failure to assess adequate impact fees from developers to apply the cost of land acquisition along the arterial corridors to secure and for new schools is their failure and should not be addressed by allowing increased sprawl. It should be addressed prospectively by increasing impact fees appropriately.
The shortfall can be made up with either bond approval or by constraining the cost of new schools by reducing the land area they occupy.
Second, the district should plan to build more comact schools — two- or three-story buildings, structured parking and shared athletic fields with city parks in order to reduce land area required. The nonsense of building 5-plus-acre elementary schools and 20-plus-acre high schools must come to an end.
Thurston County, Lacey and other regional govenments participated in the development of the Sustainable Thurton plan. That plan calls for concentrating vitrually all new development along the high-density corridors. This application flies in the face of a decision just made. This application should be denied.