Residents blast Cadman proposal

SNOQUALMIE - Emotions ran high when at least 40 local

residents sounded off at last week's public hearing for Cadman's proposed

North Bend Gravel Operation.

Approximately 160 people attended the meeting, held July 11

at Mount Si High, for the purpose of submitting formal comments for

the project's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).

Cadman Inc., a major gravel and sand producer in the state, is

planning to construct a gravel mining and processing operation between

Interstate 90 exits; 34 and 38 in North Bend. If approved, the project could last

about 25 years, after which the land would convert to open space.

Officials on the hearing panel were Gordon Thomson, project manager

for the county's Department of Development and Environmental Services,

and representatives from Dames & Moore, the firm that produced the DEIS.

Although a few of the speakers opposed the entire project, the

majority of them said the document contained incomplete details and

requested that additional studies be done.

"This is going to change the shape of North Bend. There's going to

be noise, there's going to be dust and there's going to be the possibility

of damage to the aquifer," speaker Sandy Robinson said.

At times, the meeting turned into a heated plea for Cadman to

reconsider its actions.

"I couldn't believe how many times the words `no impacts' and

`temporary' were used [in the DEIS]," said Jacki Taylor, who lives near the

proposed project and belongs to a group called the Cascade Gateway

Foundation that opposes the size and scope of Cadman's project. "I'm sorry …

but temporary is my lifetime. And it may be temporary in the big picture, but

to me, my lifetime is pretty serious. And when we talk about noise and

dust we're talking about my lifetime here, so I have serious contentions when

the word `temporary' is used."

Several aspects of the gravel operation were questioned during

the hearing, and the most prevalent were the traffic impacts of using Exit

34, potential damage to the area's water supply and possible excess noise.

The proposed project would be split between a 260-acre upper site

and 40-acre lower site. Besides gravel mining, the company plans on

conducting asphalt and concrete operations. Although four construction

alternatives are listed in the DEIS, Cadman's preferred option is Alternative

2, which would use both sites and transport gravel between them via a

conveyor belt approximately one mile long. With this plan, gravel

trucks would utilize Exit 34 for highway access.

Several residents said Exit 34 simply cannot handle the extra 900

truck trips per day that would result from the project, in addition to

concerns about dust, noise and safety.

In addition, Snoqualmie Valley School District Superintendent

Richard McCullough is concerned about the gravel pit negatively affecting

the future elementary and middle schools scheduled to be built on nearby sites.

McCullough said he is concerned about all but one of the project's

alternatives "from the point of view of traffic safety, security for children

and noise impacts upon our schools." He would like to see the lower site

left untouched, as is done in Alternative 4.

As for water quality, residents were also worried about the lower

site. Plans include mining that would take place above an aquifer. Many said

this could contaminate or interfere with the area's drinking water.

Although Cadman officials claim the mining will not go deep enough to affect

the aquifer, residents said the risk is too great.

Those who spoke out at the meeting also said noise associated with

the mining operation would be disruptive to nearby residents.

Bruce Milliman lived on family-owned acreage near the proposed

pit for 27 years, during which King County mined gravel sporadically

for highway projects. He asked Cadman to consider his personal account

when planning its project.

"The most significant experience of living next to a gravel pit is

the sound," he said. "It is like living

next door to two iron dragons that fight with each other."

Milliman's brother Pierce also spoke out against noise.

"What is at stake is the peace and quiet of a beautiful residential

neighborhood for 25 years," he said, adding that his family hired a company

to analyze Cadman's proposal.

"Residents there are expected to rely on the stated DEIS conclusion

that lower-site operations will have no impact on noise levels at their

homes," he said." I asked an

environmental consulting firm to confirm that

claim, and they could not. They found the DEIS very incomplete."

Cadman project manager Robin Hansen explained in a later

interview that she thought the hearing went well and said feedback from residents is

an important part of the public process.

"I was really impressed by the depth of the comments made and

by the preparation that went into them," she said. "Someone made a

comment that [asked if] Cadman was listening. I was there and I heard them all.

And I'm going to look at [the comments] in detail and figure how to

address them within the project design."

The North Bend Gravel Operation's official public

comment period ends August 15.

"Our job after the 15th is to go through all of those comments

and decide where to do more analysis and studies on the DEIS," Thomson

said, adding that public feedback is taken seriously and can greatly impact

the process of how decisions are made for the project.

The comments, along with responses from the environmental

consultant team, will be included in the Final Environmental Impact

Statement (FEIS) and will be used to make decisions to approve, deny or

conditionally approve the proposed gravel operation.

Thomson guessed that the FEIS could be released as early as

next spring, depending on the number of changes made to the document.

For those who have not yet submitted a comment, Thomson

offered some tips. He said detailed thoughts or objections give the reviewers

something clear to work with, especially when the page number or section

of the document is mentioned.

"The most helpful kinds of comments are those that go to specific

issues on the DEIS," he said.

Copies of the DEIS are available at the North Bend Library, the

King County cashier's desk or at Cadman's North Bend office in Seattle

East Trucktown.

Comments should be sent to Gordon Thomson at King County

DDES, Land Use Services Division, 900 Oakesdale Avenue S.W., Renton,

WA 98055 or e-mail

The Cascade Gateway Foundation is holding a community workshop

to discuss possible impacts of the North Bend

Gravel Project on the Snoqualmie Valley. The meeting will be held at

2 p.m., July 29 at the North Bend Library. For

more information, call Jeff Martine at (425)

888-1115 or e-mail

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