YMCA Camp Seymour Revises Water Tower Plan

The new proposal was welcomed by neighbors opposed to a taller 60-foot tower permitted by the county hearing examiner last year, despite community objections.


YMCA Camp Seymour applied to the Pierce County Department of Planning & Land Services for a permit July 12 to construct two concrete water tanks a year after public opposition to a proposal to construct a single 60-foot tall water tower visible from Thompson Road NW, a road abutting the camp. The complaints targeted the proposed height and visual impact on the rural community.

Each tank in the new proposal will be 35 feet tall. The tanks will store water for both fire and domestic use.

“This decision is a testament to the YMCA’s commitment to our community and to their mission, vision and values statements,” Peter Stanley of Vaughn wrote in an Aug. 7 email addressed to neighbors and friends. He called the Kitsap-Pierce County YMCA board of directors’ response to community concerns “extraordinary.”

“This decision is a testament to the YMCA’s commitment to our community." The original application, made by Camp Seymour in 2018, was necessitated by building projects outlined in the camp’s amended 2012 master plan. Any new building permit applications require the camp to meet all current Pierce County Fire Marshal codes. The camp sought to improve water flow to meet the code requirements while retaining the advantage of long-lasting low maintenance gravity-flow water systems. Without improved water flow to meet code, Camp Seymour would be unable to build any new structures.

Neighbors testified on July 18, 2018, against the project in a public hearing before the Key Peninsula Advisory Commission (See “YMCA Camp Seymour Plans Draw Opposition from Neighbors,” KP News, August 2018). In a unanimous vote, KPAC recommended the county examiner reject the proposal.

The hearing examiner instead approved the 60-foot tall tower in late August 2018, allowing the YMCA to implement its plans as soon as weather permitted in spring of 2019.

In an unanticipated move from Camp Seymour, instead of pursuing the approved permit, a different approach is underway—with some appreciation from the community that surrounds the historic camp.

While the new application does not require a public hearing for approval, the bulk of community comments on the project received by PALS as of Aug. 14, 2019, demonstrate support for the two shorter tanks set further back on the site, well hidden from public view. According to the Notice of Application for Environmental Review for Camp Seymour’s building and site development permit, should the shorter tanks be constructed, the approval for the taller tank would be relinquished.