Proposed Yelm Highway Annexation to Boost Traffic

Yelm HighwayAccording to nearby property owners and residents, the proposed annexation for the Yelm Highway will cause traffic problems. The 8.5-acre area that resides at Yelm Highway and Henderson Boulevard has people concerned that the amount and density of traffic will become a serious issue. For the annexation to go forward, the Olympia City Council must provide approval.

The proposed annexation includes four properties. In addition to Yelm Highway and Henderson Boulevard, the southeast corner consisting of single-family homes and the fourth property of the Tsuki Nursery would be impacted by the change.

Earlier this week, the Olympia City Council held a public meeting at which staff was directed to prepare an ordinance for the annexation. This ordinance must go in front of the Thurston County Boundary Review Board before it can be approved by Council members.

As stated by Marc Blegen, one of the homeowners living in a cul-de-sac on Orvas Court in an unincorporated area of Thurston County that borders the eastern edge of the proposed annexation, the change would make it difficult to gain access to his street during rush hour. Because Orvas Court is accessed off Yelm Highway, making left-hand turns would be especially hard.

Blegen and others believe that increasing the density in the area and building a multi-family development much like the Briggs Village community located across the street will only compound the problem. Currently, the site of the proposed annexation is zoned for four to eight residential units for each acre.

Neighbors strongly feel the annexation will encroach into their residential area. For homes on Orvas Court, higher density from annexation is simply incompatible. Phil Jones, another homeowner in the area, went before Olympia council members to address concerns over the annexation and its impact on traffic.

Jones stressed that housing developments in that area will continue to appeal to a greater number of families with children, as well as senior residents. He also mentioned that the intersection is more of an expressway bypass. Therefore, speeding cars is a real issue. As such, people crossing the street, especially children and seniors, are at risk. Ultimately, someone will get hurt.

Tom Schrader, a commercial real estate broker representing owners of properties in the area had previously told The Olympian newspaper that the goal is for the site to be rezoned for mixed used development consisting ofmulti-family housing and offices. Schrader, who is also the owner of the Chambers Prairie grange hall that sits on the southwest corner at the intersection, agrees with Blegen, Jones, and others regarding problems with additional traffic.

The biggest concern overall has to do with safety. For that reason, Yelm Highway needs some type of speed reduction device or the current speed limit should be reduced. Until approval goes before council members, things remain unresolved.

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