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North Bend hotel decision put on hold

After several months of delay on a decision to allow hotels south of Interstate 90´s exit 31, the North Bend City Council will wait a few more weeks before making the final call.

At its Tuesday, March 2, meeting, council members decided to split a decision on zoning changes and approval of a North Bend hotel into two separate motions, to be decided at their next regular meeting, Tuesday, March 16.

Council members were happy with zoning changes, but needed more time to discuss if such a hotel should be built.

Tuesday´s meeting saw attendance by a mix of residents and community members with split views on whether North Bend businessman George G. Wyrsch should construct a hotel at the corner of Ribary Way and Bendigo Boulevard. Concerns raised by hotel opponents included possible impacts to property values, safety and security.

The delayed decision would give the city more time to collect data, and for council members to educate themselves on the issues.

Public safety

A divided public comment session saw residents speak for and against the proposed site.

Much of the opposition came from residents of neighboring Forster Woods, who have questioned the safety and security of the project.

“I’m worried for the children up there,” said Forster Woods resident Jean Hoedl. “We need to prioritize children versus profit.”

But among those in favor was Rick Oakley, a Forster resident and parent who said he was not afraid of crime rising if the hotel were to be built.

“I’m glad North Bend is looking toward development,” he said.

In response to concerns, Eastside Fire and Rescue Marshal Tim Pilling and North Bend Chief of Police Mark Toner eased worries by touting a five-minute fire response time to the proposed property and independent research on U.S. hotels in similar surroundings.

“Across the board, crime will happen, but the majority turns out as the hotel being the victim,” Toner told the council.

Potential crimes include fraud and visitor theft — but rarely drug activity, child abduction or prostitution, according to Toner.

When councilman David Cook questioned impacts on property values, city Administrator Duncan Wilson answered that a hotel south of exit 31 would not impair values.

“The city has actively looked for data that affects the value, and it’s difficult to prove the negative,” he said.

Hotel style

Community and Economic Development Director Gina Estep called for a number of changes that would not only support Wyrsch’s proposed hotel, but other, potential hotels in North Bend.

Recommendations included:

• Building heights at 55 feet or lower

• Natural tones for building colors

• Natural materials used in hotel buildings

• Increased use of evergreen plants in parking lots

• Hidden air conditioning, satellite TV and infrastructure equipment

• Subtle exterior lighting

Last fall, North Bend’s planning commission approved recommendations in a 4-3 vote.

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