News

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 gordon.thomson@metrokc.gov.


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 jmartine@seanet.com.

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