After months of deliberation, installation of a new sewer system in North Bend’s Meadowbrook neighborhood can finally proceed.
In a unanimous decision Tuesday, Aug. 2, the North Bend City Council approved the formation of the Meadowbrook Utility Local Improvement District (ULID), paving the way for the city’s first sewer system west of the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River to begin construction.
Forming the ULID marks a huge milestone for the city and one that some neighborhood property owners have been waiting decades for. Since November, the city has held at least nine council or workstudy meetings discussing the ULID project and its implications, a stretch that was filled with long meetings and occasional delays.
“It’s been an arduous process,” said Councilmember Ross Loudenback, “but I believe it’s come to an end.”
City Councilmembers lauded the process as a great collaborative achievement between the city, residents and private businesses, that will prevent the displacement of homeowners and provide economic growth.
Mayor Rob McFarland praised the efforts of the council, noting in a press release that the ULID demonstrates the city’s commitment “to deliver a modern, well-planned infrastructure system” to residents.
Although all councilmembers supported bringing sewer to the neighborhood, they attempted to balance that desire with the concerns of about a dozen residential homeowners, who shared that the ULID cost would most likely force them out of their homes. That concern was the main driver behind the project’s eight month time frame.
The ULID gained momentum in recent months after Puget Western Inc., a private business that has potential development awaiting sewer, agreed to absorb residential owners ULID fees in most circumstances.
Under Puget Western’s offer, payments on the ULID would not be required from homeowners during the 20-year repayment plan unless they sell their property or apply for building permits to make renovations. If a home is sold within that 20 years, the buyer — not the seller — would be responsible for paying any remaining ULID costs.
With the ULID formed, sewer installation is expected to be built over the next several years, raising the property value of the area and finally allowing many neighborhood business owners to finish development on their properties.
One of those businesses is the Sirius Sports Complex, which can now finally finish expansion under its development agreement. Wende Miller, owner of the complex, started the petition to form the ULID last fall and has told the council previously that she has been trying to bring sewer to the neighborhood for 17 years.
“Now it’s time to move forward. There are no issues with doing this,” Miller told the council. “[Homeowners] don’t have to pay 1 cent if they don’t monetize their homes.”
The ULID also received support from Councilmembers Brenden Elwood and Jonathan Rosen, who after going door-to-door last fall, initially raised concerns about the project’s cost and how it could displace residents. The ULID’s approval comes just two-weeks after the council voted 4-3, at Rosen’s request, to delay the measure one last time for the benefit of homeowners.
Both Elwood and Rosen said residents initially felt unheard and were under a large amount of stress during the ULID process. They noted that many were multi-generational Valley residents living in the same house, retired or on fixed incomes.
“Many of these people are the very types of people we are trying to figure out ways not to price out of our community,” Elwood said in prepared remarks. “While it was a long, stressful road, we got there.”