Falls Crossing gets green light
October 2, 2008 · Updated 2:35 PM
SNOQUALMIE _ The proposed Falls Crossing Mixed-Use
development cleared a major hurdle Sept. 5 with the Snoqualmie
Planning Commission's 3-1 vote to recommend approval.
Voting for the project were Dale Sherman, Duane Johnson and
Terry Sorenson. Commissioner Carol Fix cast the lone dissenting vote.
The 182-acre site is located on Snoqualmie Parkway, with portions
of the development lying directly across from Snoqualmie Falls. The
proposal, filed by applicant Puget Western, Inc. (PWI), includes up to 370 single-
and multi-family dwellings, along with about 215,000 square feet of
office, retail and commercial space.
The Snoqualmie Tribe has voiced strong opposition to the
development throughout the hearing process, and a tribal member expressed dismay at
the outcome of the vote.
"We're very disappointed in the vote," said Andy de los Angeles,
an ethnoarcheologist who for 12 years was chairman of the
Snoqualmie Tribe. "The National Parks Service and a number of federal agencies
have done good work in protecting sites such as this, but the city has not
done good enough. We are very concerned that the viewshed will be eroded
away by development."
Noting the significance of the property in tribal history and its
importance as a religious and spiritual center, de los Angeles said there
is strong evidence of historical and archeological artifacts on the land.
"Our confidence is based on evidence found above and below the
Falls Crossing site on the same land form," he said. "People are not listening
simply because remnants of a large village have not been found in
limited test hole digs."
The recommendation to approve the project, along with the record
compiled by the planning commission, will be routed to the City Council for
review and a final determination to approve or deny the application.
The council has 90 days to make its decision.
"A lot of work and a lot of time has gone into this process," said
Nancy Tucker, Snoqualmie's planning director. "The Planning Commission
was very, very thorough, and they developed a comprehensive set of
findings and conditions. Now the City Council has to do its work and review all
the information contained in the file."
Incorporated in the recommendation are 694 findings and 136
conditions along with several exhibits, such as maps and residential design
guidelines and standards. The record also includes testimony given by
experts, study results and public comment. Several studies _ including a
wildlife survey, a traditional cultural places study and an economic study _ are
not yet completed.
The City Council will review the record developed by the
planning commission. If clarification or more information is needed, the council
can choose to reopen and add to the record. The council then has the option to
accept the commission's recommendation, make changes to the findings
and conditions or come to independent conclusions and deny the application.
"We acknowledge that this Mixed-Use approval process has been
difficult for all parties involved," said Bob Boyd, PWI president. "We are
pleased that the Planning Commission and city staff went through such a thorough
and open review, and we are relieved that this major step in the approval
process is behind us. We want to thank everyone who was involved in this process.
"The Planning Commission gave it a great
deal of time and effort, and they were very diligent
in their review."
President, Puget Western Inc.
Prior to the vote, the Planning Commission added abatement
language that would require the removal of any structures that could be
seen from Snoqualmie Falls at the owner's expense.
Another condition was modified to require training for all
development and construction workers engaged in activities that involve soil
disturbances on the site. The program would explain the potential for discovery
of historical sites and appropriate action in case of artifact discovery.
Training would be provided by the State Historic Preservation Officer or by a
According to Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust officials, the
non-profit group will continue to work with PWI and state agencies to
negotiate purchase of at least a portion of the site, despite the recommendation
to approve the development. Boyd confirmed that PWI intends to
continue discussions with interested parties.
Although the Falls Crossing Mixed-Use application was not
yet docketed at press time, city officials said the review is likely to be
included on the agenda for the Sept. 25, City Council meeting.