Snoqualmie Council OKs housing fee delay, taller schools, new public defender, cop

Taking action Monday, June 10, Snoqualmie City Council unanimously approved a code change allowing for higher elementary and secondary schools in city limits. Ross Bentley, a member of the city's economic development commission, took the podium to champion the change. "We spent a lot of time talking about this subject" in committee, said Bentley. "All the members are in favor of this. If the (high) school should go away because of this issue, that would cause a big economic impact on the city. The number of people coming through town, on their way to schools, is a big part."

Family members surround newest Snoqualmie officer Justin LeRoux as Mayor Matt Larson swears him in.

Family members surround newest Snoqualmie officer Justin LeRoux as Mayor Matt Larson swears him in.

Taking action Monday, June 10, Snoqualmie City Council unanimously approved a code change allowing for higher elementary and secondary schools in city limits.

Ross Bentley, a member of the city’s economic development commission, took the podium to champion the change.

“We spent a lot of time talking about this subject” in committee, said Bentley. “All the members are in favor of this. If the (high) school should go away because of this issue, that would cause a big economic impact on the city. The number of people coming through town, on their way to schools, is a big part.”

Housing tax break

Also Monday, the council introduced an ordinance for tax exemptions for multifamily housing. This new rule would allow affordable housing projects, such as Imagine Housing’s planned neighborhood on Snoqualmie Ridge, to receive tax exemptions under specific conditions. Tax exemption is not automatic and would be subject to a number of steps as well as city approval. Action for this items is slated for Monday, June 24.

In a related item, the council unanimously passed a resolution Monday evening deferring plan and building fees for Imagine Housing’s project. Fees would have to be paid when the first temporary certificate of occupancy is issued—in effect, when tenants move in.

“Imagine was originally asking for a waiver of the fees,” explained Mayor Matt Larson. “This has now been structured as a deferral, so the city will capture the fees.”

Councilmember Charles Petersen made it clear that he is taking the decision on affordable housing step by step.

“If I support these bills, moving forward, I don’t want anybody to interpret that means I’ll vote at the final for approval or disapproval,” he said.

Public defender change

The council weighed in on a new contract for indigent defense services with the firm of O’Brien, Barton, Joe and Hopkins, PLLP, of Issaquah.

Several representatives from the interim firm, Valley Defenders, took the podium to ask that the city stick with their firm, emphasizing continuity and a Valley wide-approach. Valley Defenders are the public defense attorneys for North Bend and Issaquah.

“There’s gonna be a lot of harm done by hiring on a new contract,” said Sean McCulley, co-owner of Valley Defenders. “I ask that you vote nay.”

Councilmember Jeff MacNichols, who led discussion on the contract change, is a defense attorney with Stewart MacNichols Harmell in Kent.

“We try to look at objective factors,” said MacNichols, who characterized both sides as “all qualified, and they’re all good people.”

Last January, the city’s prior public defender quit the practice of law, unexpectedly. The city cannot be put in that position again, MacNichols said.

“I don’t think there’s any chance of irreparable harm,” in making the change, he said. “The continuity of the longstanding practice of O’Brien gives me confidence that there will never be a situation during this contract where there will be a problem with providing defense.”

The contract was approved unanimously.

New cop

In other business, Mayor Larson swore in Justin LeRoux, its newest officer.

“It’s always a pleasure to hire a fellow Washington State University graduate,” said Police Chief Steve McCulley.

LeRoux graduated from Tahoma High School in Maple Valley, is an Army Reserve Officer Training Corps graduate and National Guard reservist, and an Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot who served in the Middle East.

He comes to Snoqualmie from the Port Angeles police department, and started work June 3.

 


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

In Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Inslee recently announced all counties will be staying in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan for the next several weeks. Pictured: People enjoy outdoor dining last summer in downtown Kent. Courtesy photo
Inslee: All of Washington to stay in Phase 2 for a few weeks

The governor issued a weekslong pause on regions moving backward, but has yet to outline a Phase 3.

Snoqualmie Falls was shown frequently in Twin Peaks, as was the Salish Lodge & Spa resting on the cliff above the falls. File photo
News around the Valley: Trailheads, Chamber news, ‘Twin Peaks’

Trailhead Ambassador program launches From Trailhead Ambassadors The Trailhead Ambassador program will… Continue reading

Entrance to the Tukwila Library branch of the King County Library System. File photo
King County libraries will reopen in some cities for in-person services

Fall City, Kent libraries among six selected for partial reopening.

In a zipper merge, cars continue in their lanes and then take turns at the point where the lanes meet. (Koenb via Wikimedia Commons)
Do Washington drivers need to learn the zipper merge?

Legislators propose requiring zipper merge instruction in drivers education and in license test.

Centennial Well is tightly connected to the Snoqualmie River. North Bend is required to find two mitigation sources which can be tapped to replenish water in the river on days with low flows. Ashley Hiruko/staff photo
North Bend, Sallal could restart water negotiations

Representatives from both utilities have said they’re talking again.

A South King Fire & Rescue firefighter places a used test swab into a secure COVID test vial on Nov. 18, 2020, at a Federal Way testing site. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Masks are still king in combating new COVID strains

A top UW doctor talks new strains, masks and when normal could return.

Fall City Fire Chief Chris Connor is retiring on Feb. 26, 2021 after 40 years with the department. Contributed photo
Fall City Fire Chief retires after four decades

Chief Chris Connor started with the department in February 1981.

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Democrats look to allow noncitizens to serve on school boards

A Senate bill takes aim at a state law requiring anyone seeking elected office to be a citizen.

A road closure due to flooding on SE Park Street, Snoqualmie, during the 2016 flood. File photo
Minor flooding possible along Snoqualmie, Tolt rivers

Both the Snoqualmie and Tolt rivers reached minor flooding phases on Monday… Continue reading

Most Read