Falls Crossing gets green light

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."

Bob Boyd

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

designated archeologist.

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.

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