Plans have changed for proposed North Bend hotel

Plans have already changed significantly for a proposed hotel project in North Bend, and may continue to change, residents learned at a public hearing on the project.

The project, proposed by New Sky Hotel, LLC, would construct up to four buildings on a 9.3-acre lot on the northeast corner of the Bendigo Boulevard and South Fork Avenue Southwest intersection, but would require two variances in the city's shoreline and critical areas codes, the subject of the Wednesday, April 10, hearing.

Project consultant Gil Hulsmann, in presenting his case to allow the two variances, gave an overview of the project and its evolution since the land owners, represented at the hearing by Sun Choi, filed their initial application in January, 2011. Early plans called for four buildings for hotel, restaurant, parking and conference facilities, which were arranged in a way that would require filling in three wetlands on the property. Since then, the number of buildings and the number of wetlands to be filled have shrunk, the buildings have been sited further from the floodway, and the company has also voluntarily conducted a habitat assessment, and begun monitoring groundwater.

The project will be required to meet a "zero-rise-plus" requirement, meaning that none of the earth-moving done on the site can increase the height of the property, thereby changing the stormwater runoff, plus the finished facility will be required to manage all of its own stormwater. About 20 citizens attended the hearing, but only a handful spoke. Most were extremely concerned about the runoff from the project site.

City staff reviewed the variance applications and recommended approval of them, provided several conditions were met, including that the project meets all other city permit and engineering reviews, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approves the project, the applicant will build a public nature trail and kiosk on site of the wetlands, and the applicant will mitigate the wetland filling at a rate of 2:1 by buying credits from the Snohomish Basin Mitigation Bank.

This mitigation bank, said Gina Estep, director of planning and economic development for North Bend, is within the same basin as the wetlands, and because the mitigation will be done downstream of Snoqualmie Falls, will be of greater benefit for fish habitat.

Following the presentations and testimony, McLean asked the applicant and city staff to review all of the public's comments and address their specific concerns. He said he hoped to issue a decision on the variance requests on Monday, May 6.


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