News

Revised Tollgate plan still has issues

NORTH BEND - Although a vote to preserve part of Tollgate Farm has come and gone, the revised development plans for the disputed land remain heavily scrutinized by the North Bend City Council.

Council members, already exhausted from dealing with the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington D.C., discussed the project at their meeting Tuesday, Sept. 11.

The revised plans, which were first presented to the council at its Aug. 21 meeting, describe what is intended to be done with 80 acres that make up what is left of Tollgate Farm. The majority of the farm - about 330 acres - was bought this summer by King County and the Trust for Public Land. Although development of Tollgate Farm has been under review since 1996, council members still have a lot of questions regarding the cost and impact of the proposed development project.

About 50 acres of the leftover land, called the "central meadow," would be purchased if a $3.56 million bond levy is approved by North Bend voters. Polls were open on Tuesday, but because of its publication deadline, the Valley Record was unable to print vote totals.

Council member Elaine Webber questioned whether the revised plan looked at the possibly of flooding in a realistic way. Webber said she had a hard time accepting any flood prevention rhetoric since her own neighborhood, Forster Woods, caused flooding even after developers claimed they would take care of flooding problems. Since a clear flood map of the area can't even be decided on, Webber said, she is approaching the project with extreme caution.

"If you lived through one of those floods, you'd appreciate the impact of them," Webber said. "We owe it to this community not to magnify the problem."

Webber also has concerns about the costs stated in the project's master plan. Since development would not occur for as many as five years from now due to the building moratorium imposed by the city's water and sewer problems, the cost projections may not be accurate.

"What happened out there (development) has happened so fast, and the Tollgate plan has been around for years," Webber said.

Although there was debate over how the development would affect its environment, City Attorney Mike Kenyon assured the council that the land had been zone correctly and that the plans had passed all the city's codes for building.

Gregg Dohrn, of Bucher, Willis and Ratliff Corp., the firm that has worked on the plans for North Bend, said the council's queries were legitimate.

"They have a very clear understanding of what all is involved in this," Dohrn said. "Their questions fall into two areas: traffic and sensitive areas."

Dohrn said he was working to answer the questions and fears the council brought up, including traffic. Although the plan calls for several mitigation efforts in and around North Bend, council members still expressed concerns that it would bring the ever-growing amount of cars traveling in the city to a standstill. They also expressed concerns that any traffic problems that arise from development in North would will affect its neighbor, Snoqualmie.

Dohrn said the proposed Tollgate Farm development has been subject to five different traffic studies, all of which suggested the project could go forward, but he did say there is still a chance the development will not by 100 percent problem-free.

"There are no guarantees," Dohrn said. "But having said that, the proposed analysis by the applicant is up to code."

Although the master plan for the central meadow will become moot if the bond passed Tuesday, there is still a 30-acre patch of land left that is zoned for development under the Tollgate Master Plan Western Business Park.

Century Pacific, which has been hired by Tollgate Farm's owner to help develop the property, also said that there have been adequate studies down to assure the plans fall into regulation. Steve Wood, managing director for Century Pacific, said the plans have not only met regulations, but go above and beyond some of them.

Wood also said the developers are responsible only for the traffic problems their buildings will cause, saying that if a traffic problem already exists, it is not the responsibility of the developer to solve it.

As to flooding concerns, Wood said the current plan meets city requirements, citing as an example that it goes one foot beyond what is necessary under North Bend city code for foundation building to prevent flooding.

"The standards are clearly set fourth, and they are being carried out," Woods said.

The proposed Tollgate Farm project will be discussed again at the next North Bend City Council Sept. 19.

Council members, already exhausted from dealing with the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington D.C., discussed the project at their meeting Tuesday, Sept. 11.

The revised plans, which were first presented to the council at its Aug. 21 meeting, describe what is intended to be done with 80 acres that make up what is left of Tollgate Farm. The majority of the farm - about 330 acres - was bought this summer by King County and the Trust for Public Land. Although development of Tollgate Farm has been under review since 1996, council members still have a lot of questions regarding the cost and impact of the proposed development project.

About 50 acres of the leftover land, called the "central meadow," would be purchased if a $3.56 million bond levy is approved by North Bend voters. Polls were open on Tuesday, but because of its publication deadline, the Valley Record was unable to print vote totals.

Council member Elaine Webber questioned whether the revised plan looked at the possibly of flooding in a realistic way. Webber said she had a hard time accepting any flood prevention rhetoric since her own neighborhood, Forster Woods, caused flooding even after developers claimed they would take care of flooding problems. Since a clear flood map of the area can't even be decided on, Webber said, she is approaching the project with extreme caution.

"If you lived through one of those floods, you'd appreciate the impact of them," Webber said. "We owe it to this community not to magnify the problem."

Webber also has concerns about the costs stated in the project's master plan. Since development would not occur for as many as five years from now due to the building moratorium imposed by the city's water and sewer problems, the cost projections may not be accurate.

"What happened out there (development) has happened so fast, and the Tollgate plan has been around for years," Webber said.

Although there was debate over how the development would affect its environment, City Attorney Mike Kenyon assured the council that the land had been zone correctly and that the plans had passed all the city's codes for building.

Gregg Dohrn, of Bucher, Willis and Ratliff Corp., the firm that has worked on the plans for North Bend, said the council's queries were legitimate.

"They have a very clear understanding of what all is involved in this," Dohrn said. "Their questions fall into two areas: traffic and sensitive areas."

Dohrn said he was working to answer the questions and fears the council brought up, including traffic. Although the plan calls for several mitigation efforts in and around North Bend, council members still expressed concerns that it would bring the ever-growing amount of cars traveling in the city to a standstill. They also expressed concerns that any traffic problems that arise from development in North would will affect its neighbor, Snoqualmie.

Dohrn said the proposed Tollgate Farm development has been subject to five different traffic studies, all of which suggested the project could go forward, but he did say there is still a chance the development will not by 100 percent problem-free.

"There are no guarantees," Dohrn said. "But having said that, the proposed analysis by the applicant is up to code."

Although the master plan for the central meadow will become moot if the bond passed Tuesday, there is still a 30-acre patch of land left that is

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