Letters to the Editor

North Bend hotel: Rural character or Issaquah sprawl?

I am becoming increasingly concerned over the trend to push North Bend's Exit 31 into the mold of another Issaquah.

The North Bend City Council appears poised to trash the exit by promoting a five-to-seven-story "National Brand" hotel between the roundabout and the housing development south of the freeway.

The rural character of the Valley is our gem, our singular, most valuable asset, and it seems to be slowly slipping away in the name of profit for a developer and providing national-brand services for out-of-town visitors.

I submit you can have both a unique rural city and good business and adequate funding for citizen services without trashing the town. It is called "Smart Growth," not "Profit Growth."

We need preservation, protection and promotion of our rural character. We do not need, nor want a five-story national chain hotel south of the freeway, or north of the freeway for that matter. We do not need nor want a Walmart, or Kmart or national hotel chain, that sucks the community dry and then leaves in ten years as has happened in countless small rural towns across America, one after another as they have been suckered into "services greed."

We do need extensive, reasonable, enforced buffer zones between long-established residential communities and "Johnny-come-lately" for-profit commercial development.

We need a strong solid Interchange Mixed Use buffer zone with a limit of 35-foot building heights and daytime-oriented, compatible businesses such as a day care, senior citizen's home, etc. We do need a set of building codes that limit building heights to two stories, maximum-35-feet, city-wide, period. No exceptions, no exemptions, no variances! Not for profit, not for a single owners wishes, not for just the wealthy who can hire lawyers to manhandle and intimidate the city, but for all the citizens now and in the future.

We do need as pristine a night sky as possible and guidelines to preserve it forever. We do not need a five-story neon sign and over 200 hotel room window lights destroying the night sky 24/7, viewable from the entire city. We do not need the highest building at any exit from Eastgate to the pass. We do not need to be the single city that destroys the Mountains to Sound Greenway with a 55-foot-tall concrete building instead of a park. We do need an inviting beautiful entrance to our city off of the freeway.

We do not need a national chain billboard 55 feet tall, lit up 24/7 destroying the viewshed of the entire city.

We do not need to destroy two streams, and three wetlands on an environmentally sensitive, aquifer recharge area of an already problematic, nine-acre parcel by slapping down polluting asphalt for a hotel parking lot.

There is no city code, goal, vision or guideline that calls for making a developer wealthy at the expense of livability and the destruction of the city's most valuable resource, its environment. There are multiple, city, county, state and national codes, guidelines and plans that say a 55-foot building crammed south of the freeway is flat-out wrong.

I urge the city to buy the property instead and turn it into a park. An existing program called Transfer of Development Rights provides the current owner with plenty of incentive to sell at a below market price and truly provide a needed service to the community.

I urge all North Bend citizens to unite and let the city council know you do not want a mega-hotel south of the freeway that destroys the current buffer zone and creates perpetual conflict between 250 current residents and one developer.

I urge all citizens let the city council know you do not want to look out forever at night from anywhere in the city and see massive hotel window lights and a neon sign for a national hotel chain.

Democracy is not a spectator sport. Speak up for preserving our viewshed both during the day and at night. Speak up for protecting our current citizens' rights to a livable community with enforced buffer zones. Speak up for promoting our image as a Rural city, not a dumping ground for national "for profit" chains.

Once it is built, changed, allowed, destroyed, it is gone forever. Act now. Write or e-mail your North Bend City Council.

Yes, I will admit to being a bit biased on this issue, as I helped design the city wide buffer zones as a former North Bend City Council member.

Jack Webber


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