News

Falls Crossing report released

On Tuesday, Sept. 28, the City of Snoqualmie Planning and Parks

Department released its staff report on the proposed mixed-use final plan for

the Falls Crossing development.

Under the plan submitted by Puget Western Inc., roughly 182 acres

of land bordered by SR 202, Snoqualmie Parkway and the Snoqualmie

River will come under development for the creation of Falls Crossing. The

project, which was last tabled in April, has been under the proposal, review

and revision process for several years. The current proposal dates to the

Mixed-Use application of July 1998 and includes changes from two earlier

submittals.

The report, at 136 pages, is substantial. According to

Snoqualmie City Director of Planning and Parks Planner, its volume and detail are

directed by existing mixed-use regulations, which cover a wide range

of planning items and concerns. Using this report and input from public

hearings, the Snoqualmie Planning Commission will formulate a

recommendation on the future of the project for the City Council.

Puget Western submitted its original mixed-use proposal for the

property in 1992. It has gone through several permutations over the

intervening years. In February 1996, the commission recommended denial of

the mixed-use application and - in accordance with the developer's request

- the proposal remained with the commission and city staff for

additional work, instead of going to the council. Planning and Parks released its

Final Environmental Impact Study (EIS) on Falls Crossing last April.

As submitted, the development will include a mix of residential,

retail and office structures, along with parks, trails and public use and

open space. The total number of homes could include up to 340

single-family houses, 30 to 40 multi-family dwellings, plus low-income additional

accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which are second-story housing units

above retail or office property. The application indicated the homes could

range in price up to $400,000.

The project would also include a maximum of 215,000 square feet

of commercial use, including the 55,000-75,000-square-foot Village

Retail complex at the intersection of SR 202 and Snoqualmie Parkway, and

approximately 70,000 to 100,000 square feet of office space.

Areas that have caused concern and opposition in the path are

reiterated in the report, although discussion on the impact of Falls Crossing -

in terms of traffic, city services, buffers, the environment and viewshed -

will undoubtedly continue through the public hearing process.

On two specific points, the report states that " ... existing forested

hillsides at the site will be almost entirely cleared for roads and residential

development ... (which) will essentially eliminate the wildlife habitat of

the developed portion of the site."

In addition, the staff stated " ... the undeveloped character of the site

will be changed to a developed urban community. The developed portion of

the site will be directly across the Snoqualmie River from the

Salish Lodge and the Snoqualmie Falls Observation Deck."

Much of the earlier controversy and opposition to the project

stemmed from the impact of development on the view from the Lodge and Falls

area. Partly in response to earlier development proposals, the city

of Snoqualmie enacted ordinance No. 685, the Snoqualmie Falls

Viewshed Ordinance.

The report provides recommendations on structural height

limitations and the creation of buffer areas and forested greenbelts. It also

re-emphasizes concerns about traffic and local sewer and water services, among

others.

Concerning the Village Retail area, the proposal states future

commercial tenants will include shops centering around the tourist trade,

recreational activities and the arts. The staff

recommends Puget Western be held to that understanding, adding

proposed commercial development on the Parkway does not make allowances

for strip mall-type development.

All in all, the report is a large publication addressing a major issue.

According to Tucker, the next step will be the public hearings on Falls

Crossing before the Planning Commission. They are scheduled for Monday,

Oct. 25, and Tuesday, Oct. 26. The commission will then make its

recommendation to council, selecting between outright approval, approval with

additional conditions - which must be specified by the planning group -

or denial.

Copies of the staff report are available at the Snoqualmie Library

and city offices for public review. Tucker added some additional copies may

be available for purchase. Interested parties should check with Rhonda

Montgomery or Gwyn Daigler.

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