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Building ban could be eased

NORTH BEND - The city of North Bend may be getting some relief for its water woes from a neighbor.

The Sallal Water Association, whose large service area east of North Bend includes some city residents, recently sent a letter to the city after informal meetings with city officials and a developer. The letter stated the water district was interested in doing what it could to help out with a new development as North Bend works to increase its water rights.

The letter caused the City Council on Oct. 16 to hear the first reading of a revised ordinance that would relax the building moratorium imposed on the city since April 1999. According to the ordinance, the moratorium would be lifted on parcels of land in or adjoining the Sallal service area and out of the 100-year floodplain.

Although nothing is definite yet, Councilwoman Elaine Webber said at the meeting that the letter was an important first step in helping the city cope with its biggest obstacle to growth.

City Administrator Phil Messina said AF Evans Development, a Seattle-based development company, is interested in building on a 7-acre parcel of land behind the Napa Auto Parts store at 1120 E. North Bend Way. The parcel is zoned for residential development, and city officials said AF Evans would like to build a 227-unit, multifamily (apartment or condominium) complex.

Robert Ketterlin, director of acquisitions for AF Evans, was at the Oct. 2 North Bend City Council meeting and told council members that his company was interested in helping out in any way it could to get the moratorium lifted.

When contacted by the Valley Record, Ketterlin did not wish to comment on the proposed development.

AF EVans is working with both the city of North Bend and Sallal because the land on which it wants to develop is in both their service areas, said Bob Pancoast, executive director of the East King County Regional Water Association.

He said about 70 percent of the land is in the Sallal service area, while the other 30 percent is in North Bend. In the informal meetings, Sallal and North Bend officials discussed with AF Evans what measures the company would take to ensure the complex conserves water.

"There is not a lot of water left in Sallal either," Pancoast said. "They might have a moratorium here before too long."

Although the ordinance would ease the moratorium for the possible development, it is seen as a temporary solution to a long-term problem. Messina said the city is still investigating ways to obtain more water rights, which is made all the more frustrating by the fact there is water around, but just no rights to pump it.

Messina said possible solutions include getting water from Seattle, receiving approval from the Department of Ecology to use a well that was dug in 1992 or simply drawing more water from the spring the city already uses at the base of Mount Si.

"Each solution has its pros and its cons," Messina said. "Some of the solutions are pretty expensive."

You can reach Ben Cape at (425) 888-2311, or e-mail him at ben.cape@valleyrecord.com.

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