Within in the last several weeks, the debate over Falls Crossing has began to draw attention from outside the Valley. Most importantly, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the
Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development have checked in
on the development, and guess what: they aren’t glowing recommendations
for this major project. Surprise. In fact, both departments question the
process which the city and planning commission have used, primarily querying
the lack of discussions with these respective agencies.
The attorney for Falls Crossing has dismissed the input from the
Department of Fish and Wildlife as coming from a “low-level employee.” Her
supervisor has even gone so far as to say the agency shouldn’t have gotten
involved and got suckered by a group of insistent opponents.
Wow … so a group of concerned citizens is suckering state officials.
Hmmm, something doesn’t seem right, and as I have said before, it’s not uncommon
for a state agency to forget they work for those “insistent” opponents.
So, were the remarks by Snoqualmie River Watershed Area Habitat
Biologist Carol Bordin out of place? How recent were the habitat studies
developed and are they still applicable to the latest FEIS? Why shouldn’t a state agency
be involved in the planning process? In fact, why not bring in all the experts
from various agencies to make sure the project is right for the topography and
habitat it will impact?
Even if the letter were flawed, it can’t be completely dismissed in that
there are still questions, albeit based upon old information, that need to be
addressed. So the planning commission should take the initiative to involve the
Department of Fish and Wildlife and get a current reading from them. What can
it hurt, other than taking a little more time?
The Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development
raises concerns about the Snoqualmie Falls viewshed and Snoqualmie tribal
implications. There is a potential that the Falls property could be designated as a
National Historic Landmark, having “exceptional value to the nation.” Won’t it
be great for people to look down the river and see a retail center?
So in whose hands is the decision currently? Well, the planning
commission is attempting to formulate their recommendation for the city council,
and chances are Puget Western will sue if the project is denied one more time.
But I hope that the city and planning commission don’t bow to the threat of
lawsuit, because if it happens once, you can bet that every other developer will
use the lawsuit approach.
It’s not that I am against responsible development that is beneficial to
the Valley as a whole, but I’m not sure that the proponents of Falls Crossing
have proven to all that this project is beneficial to the Upper Valley and won’t
take away from Snoqualmie’s character.
So, it’s in the hands of the planning commission, Matt Stone, Carol
Fix, Betty Harris, Duane Johnson, Steve Mounsey, Dale Sherman and
Terry Sorenson. These are the folks who hold the key to Snoqualmie’s future.
Let’s hope they are willing to take the concerns of at least two state agencies to
heart and take their time in making the right decision.
Let these people know your feelings in the next few weeks. Their
phone numbers can be obtained from city hall. Despite the closing of public
comment, these folks must listen to their constituents and take it into consideration.