Thursday, July 22, 2010

Proposed Chambers Lake Residential Development Application Withdrawn

by Janine Gates

The application to the city for the proposed Chambers Lake Residential development in southeast Olympia has been formally withdrawn by the applicant, Triway Enterprises.

A terse, two sentence email to city planner Brett Bures yesterday afternoon sent by Jeff Pantier of Hatton Godat Pantier, who represents Triway Enterprises for this application, states, "The applicant has decided to withdraw the preliminary plat application. The Public Hearing will no longer be necessary."

The public hearing was scheduled for Monday, July 26th, in the Olympia city council chambers.

Asked to comment today on the email, Pantier told this reporter, " Tri - (Vo) - Triway - just decided to focus on other things they have going on. The city was recommending a denial, you know, so, not to say it couldn't go through...."

Jeanette Dickison, formerly Jeanette Hawkins, a project manager and frequent spokeperson for Triway Enterprises, is out of the office until Monday and was unavailable for comment.

Tori Cookson of Triway Enterprises said the application withdrawal was "just about timing and other issues I wouldn't want to comment on."

Triway Enterprises is known to be facing bankruptcy issues.

When asked, Bures could not guess how many hours he has spent on this application, which he has worked on since it was first submitted in 2004. The application has taken several forms since that time.

If the application is ever resubmitted to the city for review, the project would have to comply with the latest regulations, such as stormwater and engineering design, said Bures.

Lou Guethlein, a resident on Wiggins Road, and president of the Association of Citizens Concerned About Chambers Lake Basin (ACCCLB), was thrilled with the news.

"You should have seen me when Brett told me the news - I let out a whoop and gave him a big hug," said Guethlein, during a break in today's proceeding on the proposed Trillium development. "This is a tremendous victory."

Proposed Trillium Hearing Update

The hearing for the proposed Trillium development in the Chambers Lake Basin area concluded today. The hearing was held at the Eastside Fire Station. It began at 9:00 a.m. and adjorned at 5:40 p.m. The hearing examiner is under a two week requirement to reach a decision, however, the attorney for the applicant, DR Horton, said she would waive the requirement to give city hearing examiner Tom Bjorgen more time to deliberate.

The county gave its presentation on stormwater issues in the morning. Traffic related testimony, with cross-examinations, and final remarks took up the bulk of the afternoon.

Chairs were set up in the room for community members to observe the proceeding.

Cristiana Figueroa lives on Hoffman Road near the proposed development, and was present as a private citizen all day at the hearing. Professionally, she is a chemical and environmental engineer for the state Department of Ecology.

Asked to comment on the proposal during a break in the proceeding, Figueroa offered her unique perspective:

"I strongly believe that the city has rushed into a position that is not consistent with citizen benefits. I wanted to hear what the county said about stormwater issues and I was delighted that they provided a bigger perspective that clearly shows that this project should be denied. Further stormwater analysis should be done," said Figueroa.

"The benefits of the forest next to LBA Park has not been fully recognized, and what the destruction of that forest would mean. It's a natural space that holds volumes of water. It's a pollutant filtering agent and has wildlife habitat."

"I understand engineering disciplines - we are taught to understand the intersection of mathematics and the natural environment. We see such a level of detail that we lose the big picture - I see this over and over again as an engineer. I can see where they (the applicants) are coming from, but we are at a stage as a society where we need to get beyond the individual project impacts and look at the regional big picture."


In a previous story, "Trillium Development Hearing Continues Next Week," dated July 14, 2010, a caption under a future street connector sign was incorrect. A major collector gathers between 3,000 - 14,000 daily trips, not between 3,000 - 4,000 as written. I guess I just could not believe my notes, which were written with the correct information.

For more information and previous stories on proposed developments in southeast Olympia, search this blog at

Former Port Commissioner Offers Dogs Now, Not Logs

Above: Hyejin Nofzinger with her children, left to right, Jenna, 4, Hannah, 6, and Justin, 8, enjoy their dogs and drinks from Steve Pottle's and Cameron Jutte’s hot dog stand near the Olympia Farmer’s Market. Nofzinger and her children just arrived here last week from Korea. Her husband, who serves in the military, arrived here last April and told her about the rain, wondering if he had made a mistake in settling his family in the Northwest. “I can’t believe there’s a rainy season here - the weather is so beautiful!” said Nofzinger.

By Janine Gates

If a vendor down near the port property looks a little familiar, look again. He's former Port Commissioner Steve Pottle - but instead of serving up Weyerhaeuser logs, he's serving up wiener dogs.

Pottle says he's "just an investor" in his nephew’s new business, Man Bites Dog, but he's clearly helping out in many other ways, showing his nephew, Cameron Jutte, 21, the smoother side of what it takes to run any business: excellent customer service and the benefits of having an outgoing personality.

“Thank you for your business,” Pottle is heard to say, as every customer leaves.

The hot dog stand is located outside the Market Center Building across from the Olympia Farmer’s Market and operates Wednesdays through Sundays, from about 11:00 - 3:00 p.m.

The two attended the recent Winter Olympics and were inspired by the street vendors and thought, "we can do this." Both admit to being "foodies."

Asked how they came up with the name for the business, Pottle said it was originally the name started at the World’s Fair in Seattle in 1962 by the guy who later started Costco. After checking with their attorney, they found out they could use the name. “We originally wanted “Top Dog,” but that was taken,” says Jutte.

The pair say they go through about 45-50 hot dogs a day, although Pottle says how much product to buy is hard to tell. They sometimes run out before 3:00 p.m. To add to various dogs and a barbeque pork sandwich, they will be adding a Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich to the menu soon.

A New York Polish Dog smothered with sweet grilled onions is five bucks. Chips and cold drinks are also available. One day last week, the special was a free drink with any dog. Folks familiar with Pottle, such as Mr. Panowicz of Panowicz Jewelers, stopped by to say hi.

Above: Steve Pottle, right, and nephew Cameron Jutte served up a lot of dogs during this interview.

Since their grand opening a couple weeks ago, ("Every day is a grand opening!" quipped Pottle) business has been brisk.

Turns out, it's not so much of a leap to go from port to pork. Running a hot dog stand sounds similar, if not just about as complicated, as running the Port of Olympia.

“The biggest challenge is going through the whole process of setting up the business and legal entities," says Pottle. "Getting the permits, sourcing the cart, securing a location, testing the product…you have to have a substantial amount of money to get it going,” he says.

Not only money, but obtaining the proper permits to get a business license, food handler’s licenses, a permit with the county for food handling, having a commissary with a three station sink, and a dishwasher, are all part of the challenges of owning your own food vending business. Pottle and Jutte lease the space for their cart in front of the Market Center Building from the Rants Group.

Pottle served nine years on the port commission, from 1997-2006, and was an original board member of Thurston First Bank, serving there for five years. He left Olympia four years ago, going to Everett to start the Snohomish County Office of Economic Development for County Government. He was there two years, and came back. Now, he’s consulting in business and sales.

Asked if he follows port business now, he said, “Nope! I don’t belong to nothing now - I don’t sit on any boards or commissions - zip - nothing. I did my time!” Pottle laughs, and is happy to report that he recently ran a half marathon in June, for the Seattle Rock and Roll event to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Jutte says this isn’t just a summer job for him - this is what he wants to do for the foreseeable future. “I want to cater events, if possible, small events,” he says.

Pottle adds, "That’s why we got a cart with wheels - so we can cater on a dime."

Editor's Note: According to NPR this morning, today is National Hot Dog Day! And by a strange coincidence, Janine was planning to post this story today!

Full Disclosure: The fact that Mr. Pottle gave me a fifty cent discount on a dog last week and loaded it with free onions had absolutely no influence on the outcome of this story. And the fact that Janine went back again another day and got another New York Polish Dog (just to make sure it was as great as the first one) still had no influence on the outcome of this story.

Above: Diane Harpel, an employee at the nearby Panowicz Jewelers, doesn't have far to go for lunch.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

East Olympia Firefighters Are Ready

By Janine Gates

East Olympia volunteer firefighters got their first chance in two years to fight an actual house fire in a live training exercise held yesterday on Normandy Road in Thurston County.

The three hour exercise involved about 20 firefighters, according to Fire Chief Mel Low. “We usually get about one house donated to us a year but we’ve gone two years without one,” said Low.

It is a National Fire Protection Association requirement to provide live fire training before volunteers can be involved in a real call. This past winter, volunteers were sent to Tenino to participate in a live fire training exercise.

Asked how houses come into their hands, Low said citizens contact them when they have bought land and don’t need or want the existing structure, or want to build a new house. To prepare the house for the training, it has to have the asbestos removed, but they don’t take out the carpeting or take off the shingles, because that would change the behavior of the fire and wouldn’t be realistic.

“When we get a house, we usually like to use it for two to three months and utilize it to its fullest capacity. In this case, the house was given to us just two weeks ago, so we’ve had 10 days to use it before the county burn ban goes into effect today through October 15th,” said Low. In the last ten days, the house has been used extensively for training in search and rescue and trapped firefighters.

In yesterday’s exercise, plywood and cardboard was set up and crews took turns going in and putting out the fire, each having multiple opportunities to be the first one in.

Above: East Olympia firefighters train in a live exercise yesterday on Normandy Road.

The East Olympia Fire District covers 30 square miles, and protects a population of 14,000 and 5,500 homes. The district has 16 paid employees and 47 volunteers, mostly young people. They have six to ten volunteers on duty each shift, and beds for thirteen.

East Olympia staffs two fulltime engine companies, one on each side of the railroad tracks: Station Headquarters on Normandy, Station #61, and Station #64, on Old Highway 99 near The Barn Nursery.

An average of 65 trains a day run through East Olympia, including eight Amtrak trains. The rest are freight trains. Almost all the freight trains carry hazardous material.

The district gets about six to ten volunteers a year and can always use more, says Low.

For more information, contact the East Olympia Fire District at (360) 491-5533 or go to their website at

Above: An East Olympia firefighter rests after training yesterday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Trillium Development Hearing Continues Next Week

by Janine Gates

The hearing for the proposed Trillium development in southeast Olympia continues next week. The hearing so far has taken up three evening meetings in June, each lasting about four and a half hours.

At the close of the third day of the hearing on June 29th at 11:00 p.m., Olympia Hearing Examiner Tom Bjorgen said it was clear that one more full day would be required to potentially conclude the hearing.

The hearing will reconvene July 22, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at Fire Station No. 1, 100 Eastside Street, Olympia, in the Training Room. No public comment will be taken. Public comment was already taken at two hearings, June 14th and June 28th. (For more information, see articles at

The city of Olympia is recommending approval of the Trillium development and has provided the applicant with a list of conditions it must meet for final approval.

Sensing the public's difficult feelings for the city staff's position on this development, deputy city attorney Darren Nienaber opened his remarks on June 28 by reminding the audience that city staff are simply carrying out zoning approved by the city council.

"Staff has no authority to question the council nor can city staff take a position that it (a project) is good or not. Our job is to determine compliance or not. That's it. Is there compliance or is there not?"

On June 28, witnesses for both sides testified to project details about school capacity, traffic, groundwater monitoring and drinking water resource protection.

The applicant presented a list of objections and clarifications to the conditions of approval, which were discussed. The attorney for DR Horton often reminded the city that the project is vested to 2005 standards and did not have to comply with the city's current, more stringent ordinances, including those involving public safety, such as providing automatic fire sprinklers in all single family dwelling units and townhouse units.

Above: Deputy City Attorney Darren Nienaber looks over the proposed development plans for Trillium with former Olympia city councilmember Karen Messmer at a hearing about the project on June 28.

On June 28th, the public was allowed to continue their testimony.

Karen Messmer, who served on the council from 2005 - 2009, and also served on the Olympia Planning Commission from 1995-2005, including four terms as chair, testified on behalf of Olympia Safe Streets. She took issue with the Trillium plans on the grounds that they do not conform to proper alternative transportation design and development standards put in place to implement the goals and policies of Olympia's comprehensive plan. She said that there appears to be a problem with the interpretation of the standards by developer and the city.

"The key policy here is that Olympia’s standards call for a gridded street network, on a 250’ – 350’ grid. Where streets are not provided at that network spacing criteria, we require that bicycle/pedestrian connections be provided in lieu of street connections...."

"This development has done a relatively good job providing connections within the development. There are streets, alleyways, and pathways provided, however, the proposed design utterly fails the standards for connections to the periphery of the development. This fails to serve the needs of current and future residents in and around the development to access transit, schools, services, or just go for a walk or visit to a neighbor," Messmer said in her testimony.

Above: If you see this sign in your neighborhood, you might want to call the city. This sign is near Log Cabin Road. The proposed Trillium project is so large that it will require, if approved, three classes of streets including major collectors, which would generate 3,000 - 4,000 daily trips.

County Concerns

The remaining portions of the consolidated preliminary plat and State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) hearing were scheduled for July 22 to include only the conclusion of the city's case and the applicant's, DR Horton's, reply and rebuttal case.

However, last week, Cliff Moore, director of the Thurston County Resource Stewardship Department, contacted Bjorgen to request the presentation of information related to updated precipitation records for use in the flooding analysis; potential downstream impacts of increased stormwater volume on properties immediately north and south of Yelm Highway and suggested mitigating strategies, and the status of monitoring and maintenance of the Chambers Ditch to avoid an increase in flooding.

After considerable communications with all parties, Bjorgen says he will allow the new information to be presented at the hearing July 22.

In Bjorgen's email to all parties, Bjorgen stated that although the county should have presented the information during the public testimony portion of the hearing, "the subjects touched by the requested evidence go to the heart of...public health and safety....It hardly serves the interests of applicable law to ignore potentially valuable evidence simply to sanction the county for lateness...."

Bjorgen also stated that the potential value of the evidence is high and "when one considers the nature and size of the proposal, the years it has taken to develop and present it, and potential risks from a less than fully informed decision in these areas, it is clear to me that the interests protected by all applicable law, including those of fairness, would be damaged more by excluding the evidence...."

After the testimony is completed, then the hearing examiner may ask additional questions to items that may have not been answered and ask the applicant, city staff, or the public for a response to those questions. The examiner will decide this after the next hearing.

The hearing examiner will provide a recommendation on the development to the city. Ultimately, the final decision to approve or not approve the project lies with the Olympia City Council.

Chambers Lake Residential Hearing

In an update on another proposed development in southeast Olympia on 37th Avenue Southeast, near Trillium, a public hearing on Chambers Lake Residential will be held July 26, 6:30 p.m., in the Olympia City Council chambers, 900 Plum Street. This is a date change from previous information provided to the public.

The applicant, Triway Enterprises, is proposing a 40 acre subdivision for 153 dwelling units, including 52 multi-family units, 35 single-family townhomes, and 105 single-family detached homes with reduced setbacks.

City staff is recommending a denial of the application based on inadequate stormwater management and other reasons detailed in the city's staff report.

Hearing dates are subject to change. Contact the city for the latest information. For more information about the Trillium or Chambers Lake Residential projects, contact Brett Bures, (360) 753-8568, or Written statements may be submitted to the Olympia Community Planning and Development Department, PO Box 1967, Olympia, WA 98507-1967. Written comments must be received at or prior to the public hearing.

Above: Brett Bures, Olympia city planner, is buried under a few Trillium related papers at a recent hearing.