On Monday April 27, 2020, the town of Snoqualmie made public the long-awaited environmental impact study project (DEIE) for the major development project of the plant site.
The DEIS was prepared by the owner and developer of a 261 acre Planned Commercial / Industrial Site (PCI). The site is located within the city limits of Snoqualmie and is owned by Snoqualmie Mill Ventures LLC. Before the land was sold about 10 years ago, it was the site of a Weyerhaeuser sawmill for almost 100 years. The adjacent Mill Pond / Lake Borst is not part of the planned development. It still belongs to Weyerhaeuser.
About two-thirds of the plant site is expected to be kept in open space, including natural areas, trails, habitat, and flood storage. The developed zone would be done in three stages: planning zone 1, planning zone 2 then planning zone 3, with less certainty in the later stages. The phased project is expected to take place over the next 10 to 15 years.
According to DEIS, “Planning Zone 1 would be developed for a mix of employment, retail and residential activities, organized in a pedestrianized village center adjacent to a“ main street ”. About 160
housing units are offered on the second and upper floors of mixed-use buildings… Apartments would be for rent, at market rates, and would be a mix of one and two bedroom units, of medium size approximately 835 square feet.
If Snoqualmie Mill’s vision comes true, the preferred concept for the area will be wine-related uses, including wine production, wine tasting and other wine-related uses, restaurants, event spaces and the lodging.
The developer of the mill site, Tom Sroufe, said several wineries have already expressed interest in the potential development, but explained that they will need to reassess that interest once the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis are undermined. .
Read our previous article on the planned development of the factory site HERE.
It has been three years since Snoqualmie Mill Ventures submitted an application for a development master plan for municipal staff review. Since then, the promoter has prepared the draft environmental impact study. The purpose of DEIS is to identify all impacts (traffic, water, environment, pollutants, sights, archeology, noise, etc.) caused by development and to present plans to mitigate negative impacts.[Note: That 2017 master plan application contained a controversial component – a large, outdoor amphitheater in Planning Area 1 – which according to Sroufe has been removed from the preferred Mill Site re-development option contained in the DEIS. The amphitheater component, though, is still included in an alternative re-development option in the DEIS (required by the SEPA Act) and is located in Planning Area 3.]
Some examples of mitigation proposals contained in the DEIS [for phase 1] include the restructuring of part of Millpond Road; the addition of a traffic light at the intersection of Fisher Creek and Snoqualmie Drive; treatment of water flowing from impermeable surfaces and entering the Snoqualmie River; a bottomless culvert under the realigned portion of SE Mill Pond Road to allow passage of flood water, small mammals, carnivores and amphibians; clean-up and remediation of inherited contamination in planning zones 2 and 3 where these contaminants have been located. [These a just a few examples of many contained within the large DEIS document]
The development of DEIS took three years [in part] due to the fact that the site was previously a sawmill and therefore presents environmental and contamination issues; its location adjacent to the Snoqualmie River; and the size and duration of the proposed development. The DEIS itself is almost 3,000 pages (including appendices) for the large and complicated site.
Plant site developer and North Bend resident Tom Sroufe said DEIS has taken a long time because he takes it seriously. He explained that they wanted to be thorough, not to be surprised by anything. They asked the hired consultants to complete the DEIS to address the impacts in advance.
The first version of DEIS was presented to the Town of Snoqualmie about a year ago. The city consultants then provided feedback and further work was done to develop the detailed document.
Sroufe commented, “We have done our best to identify any impact on the community and believe that there is no significant negative impact that cannot be mitigated. “
Snoqualmie Town Community Development Director Mark Hofman explained the project has now entered a legally required audience [and state agency] comment period, which will last 45 days.
Hofman said the goal now is to have as many eyes as possible on the document to generate as many feedback as possible, which will make the EIS even stronger to fully mitigate negative impacts.
Once the public comment period has ended, Mill Site Ventures will then be required to respond to each comment provided.
According to the Town of Snoqualmie lawyer, Bob Sterbank, the town will also assess the comments received, make any changes it deems appropriate to the various chapters of the DEIS and appendices, and prepare an additional chapter or addendum that will include the responses. comments related to factual corrections. or when the City determines that the comment (s) do not warrant a further response.
The City then publishes the final environmental impact study (FEIS). This FEIS will accompany the draft commercial / industrial plan (PCI plan) when it is submitted to the town planning commission for a public hearing. The planning commission will then make a recommendation to the municipal council as to the approval / acceptance of the PCI plan and the FEIS. A developer agreement should also be drawn up between the two parties if / when the project progresses.
Written commentary on the DEIS taken until June 11: the review and comment period has been extended from 30 to 45 days for this draft environmental impact statement. Written comments can be submitted until June 11, 2020 and addressed to Mark Hofman, SEPA Manager, Town of Snoqualmie, PO Box 987, Snoqualmie, WA 98065. Comments can also be emailed to [email protected] or [email protected]
Oral commentary taken on May 20 at 4 p.m.: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency and stay-at-home orders statewide, the city will be taking oral comments in a remote online meeting rather than in person. The meeting is scheduled for May 20, 2020 at 4 p.m. The city said information on the calls would be provided at a later date and posted on the city’s website calendar. [To be notified directly about the meeting information, sign up for Notify Me and choose “Mill DEIS”]
Through a city-state press release, “approval of the environmental impact study project would not in itself authorize any physical construction on the site. If approved, Snoqualmie Mill Ventures will need to submit an application to physically develop the property.
If this request were approved, the site would be redeveloped over a period of approximately 10 to 15 years.
For more information, visit the Development Project page of the plant website.