North Bend OKs hotel south of Interstate 90 in 6-1 vote

Calling for more research prior to a decision, Forster Woods resident Bryan Finney airs concerns Tuesday, April 6, on property impacts from a proposed hotel south of North Bend
Calling for more research prior to a decision, Forster Woods resident Bryan Finney airs concerns Tuesday, April 6, on property impacts from a proposed hotel south of North Bend's Exit 31. The North Bend City Council approved an ordinance allowing a hotel near Finney's neighborhood in a 6-1 vote.
— image credit: Allison Espiritu / Snoqualmie Valley Record

As the North Bend City Council gave its assent to a new hotel south of Interstate 90, sighs of disapproval carried through the audience.

Six of seven North Bend council members greenlighted new rules Tuesday, April 6, allowing a hotel off the interstate’s exit 31. Council members Jonathan Rosen, Alan Gothelf, Ross Loudenback, David Cook, Jeanne Pettersen and Chris Garcia voted to approve the ordinance. Dee Williamson, a Forster Woods resident, was the sole nay vote.

About 30 people attended the meeting. Of those who spoke prior to the decision, all were against the hotel ordinance.

However, the majority of the council downplayed potential negatives of a new hotel.

“There (are) worse things that can go here than a hotel,” said Cook, who discounted talk of value drops due to a hotel as “fear-mongering.”

Williamson said he weighed the pros and cons of the decision, but in the end empathized with neighbors.

“I represent the people, not what I want. I’m going to have to oppose this,” he said.

As applause came from Forster Woods residents after Williamson’s decision, Mayor Ken Hearing quieted the crowd before initiating the final majority vote for the hotel approval.

Prior to the hotel vote, all seven council members voted to approve prior land use performance standards for hotels. These standards had restricted hotels to the north of I-90, governed driveways and held building heights to a maximum of 35 feet.

Following the decision, several residents of Forster Woods, a neighboring housing development, voiced their hope that developer George Wyrsch will consider their alternative use of the property. Many advocated a vision of a visitor’s center and gateway to North Bend at the location.

“The larger goal should be is to find the way to put this property to productive use,” said Seth Hoedl, a Forster Woods resident. “A visitor’s center could be an ideal compromise.”

“This is about the growth of North Bend and what it stands for and what it can be,” said Forster resident Karen Kinneberg. “I don’t think this is a benefit to North Bend. It won’t pull people into downtown.”

Kinneberg added that she understands that Wyrsch needs to sell his land, and that North Bend obviously does need a hotel. But she believes the exit 31 site is not the right location.

“I’m in for the fight,” Kinneberg said. “We will try to appeal. Regardless of it being voted in, I just don’t think it’s over. There are too many other things they have to go through.”

With the approval, Wyrsch has the ability to seek a pre-application review from the city. The application will require a design review, traffic analysis, site plan and sensitive area approval.

Pleased with the council’s decision, Wyrsch told the Valley Record that he respects Williamson’s call.

“I’m glad it went this way during this long, arduous time,” he said.

In the next month, Wyrsch will discuss preliminary drawings with his architect, Paul Franks.

“It’s a matter of coordinating what the city wants with the design review and what the franchiser wants as to how the building looks and functions,” he said.

The building itself will take a year to 18 months to build.

“It won’t be open immediately, but we’re on the path,” Wyrsch said.

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