Quadrant, one of the developers responsible for the Snoqualmie Ridge, has offered to give the city four forested properties around the north side of the Ridge development. The Snoqualmie City Council authorized the mayor Dec. 11 to review and accept Quadrant’s offer to convey ownership of the land at no cost to the city.
Three of the four properties are just outside the city limits along the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail, the fourth section of land is east of The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge. In discussion of the offer, the council expressed a strong desire to preserve the properties, which total 176 acres, as they are and maintain them through the city’s Urban Forestry program.
Community Development Director Mark Hofman said discussions about the conveyance of ownership for the land began about one year ago, stating that since development on Snoqualmie Ridge had largely been completed, Quadrant didn’t have much of a reason to own the property any longer.
Phil Bennet, city arborist, gave a presentation to the city council that outlined his analysis of the land. He explained three reasons the parcels were in great condition, including the types of trees, the small impact on maintenance, and the urban tree canopy percentage.
“It’s best-case scenario stuff,” he said. “What that means is there were very few invasive species I could find, and a lot of large conifers. The reason that matters is the conifers have the biggest level of impact on the environment, they do everything in larger quantities and better than other trees. So they capture stormwater runoff, filter the air, filter water, these kinds of things …most cities in our area don’t have these kinds of areas available to them. This is an extraordinary set of properties.”
Bennet explained that by taking on these properties, the city’s canopy percentage would increase, making Snoqualmie a regional leader, he said.
Two trails also run through these properties, the Snoqualmie-maintained Deep Creek Trail and the King County maintained Preston-Fall City Trail.
The three properties outside of the city were zoned rural/residential and the one in the city is zoned mixed-use open-space. Hofman explained to the council that the city’s intent to maintain these as open space and keep any development or logging away was helped by the fact that the properties have very steep lands, are habitat areas, and have been identified by the county as possible locations for small landslides, making the development possibility minimal.
“So while they are zoned residential it really is minimum developability,” he said. “And there currently are no homes on there.”
One of the big concerns for the council was that in the conveyance of land, logging rights remained with Quadrant. Council agreed that even if those rights remained in the agreement, the land would still be better off with the city, but directed staff to speak with Quadrant to remove the logging rights condition from the deed.
Hofman said that Quadrant agreed to release the logging right exception as part of the conveyance of land to the city, solving the issue of future logging attempts.
“They agreed, when they execute the statutory deed they will release the encumbrance and the logging issue goes away,” he said. “…We become the owner and at that point there is no provision for them to come back and log.”
In addition to accepting the four properties, Hofman said the council expressed the desire to protect the lands in perpetuity, by placing a conservation easement over them as well.