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Comments wanted on North Bend comp-plan changes

NORTH BEND - North Bend planners are in the process of completing the city's proposed 2000 comprehensive plan amendments, and they want to know what you think about them.

The city is hosting an open house to discuss the amendments at the Mount Si Senior Center, 411 Main Ave. S. in North Bend on Thursday, Jan. 31. The open house lasts from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. with a presentation from 7 to 7:30 p.m.

Community Services Director Larry Stockton said he wants to collect public input before the amendments go to the City Council for approval later this year. He said the proposed amendments would cover three concerns identified by citizens and the City Council in 1999.

The first directive was to reduce land-use conflicts created where residential zoning borders commercial or industrial zoning districts by creating a new land-use zone, a transitional overlay zone and an urban separator.

The new land-use zone is a proposed Interchange-Commercial Residential (IC-R) zoning district that provides transitional zoning between commercial and residential zoning. The location of the proposed IC-R zoning is in the vicinity of Exit 31, where the present Interchange Commercial zone borders residential zones at the Factory Stores at North Bend.

The Transitional Area Overlay District (TAOD) is proposed to be a 200-foot wide area between residential and commercial and/or industrial zoning districts. The TAOD would require landscaping and design standards depending upon the type of land use on a property.

Stockton said mitigations could range from natural landscaping to revised building orientation and direction lighting.

The proposed Urban Separator Overlay Zone would link the Meadowbrook and Tollgate farms into one neighborhood that separates the North Bend from Snoqualmie.

"This new designation would be consistent with the extensive preserved open space and sensitive areas in and around the neighborhood," Associate Planner Steve Buske said.

The second directive was to improve protection for sensitive areas by creating a Sensitive Areas Overlay District that will identify those areas on the zoning map. Additional amendments would require a notice on the title of properties having sensitive areas at the time of developmental approval. This would require owners to protect river channel migration areas and take steps to protect species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The third directive was to improve protection for resource lands, including agricultural and forested areas. The proposed amendments would define and identify existing agricultural resource lands, create a 150-foot buffer on property adjacent to agricultural land, and also require a notice on the title of property within 500 feet of resource lands at the time of development to notify future owners of potential development limitations.

According to Stockton, the Middle Fork Ranch owned by Ewing Stringfellow is the only property the city is considering designating as agricultural land. Other farms, such as Meadowbrook Farm and the Tollgate Farm, are urban open spaces included in the proposed Urban Separator Overlay Zone. Although they continue to have limited agricultural activity on them, they have been zoned to allow recreational uses as well.

Stringfellow, who requested such a designation last year, became upset with the city last fall when officials approved an apartment complex to be built next to his property. He said the development would ultimately ruin his farm.

Stockton explained such compromises are part of the planning process. As an example, he cited the time when residents complained about the mitigations put in place to block sound and light coming from the post office. When the post office put up trees pursuant to city code, some of the neighbors complained that their view had been marred.

"We cannot pass mitigations that are all things to all people," Stockton said.

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