Appeal to stop 212-unit Cedar River Apartment complex in North Bend denied, condition about water supply added

An appeal made over the summer by opponents of the 212-unit Cedar River Apartment complex planned for the Dahlgren property along North Bend Way did little to sway a hearing examiner that the City of North Bend’s approval of the project’s preliminary short plat and binding site plan were inconsistent with its Comprehensive Plan.

Friends of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and River (FOSVT) – which has been working for over a year to halt the proposed project – did though convince the hearing examiner to see their side of the water issue impacting the development, which led to a condition being attached to the decision.

The examiner denied the appeal and concluded the city’s approval of the Cedar River Project was “fully supported by substantial and credible evidence. The challenged decision was not issued by mistake, or was it incomplete or premature as alleged by the appellant. Instead, it was a reasonable and accurate application of facts to the relevant master plan overly district, short plat and binding site plan regulations applicable to the site.”

The examiner attached a condition, though, saying that prior to the project’s Final Flat approval, there needs to be a written guaranty of water availability for the entire project.

During the appeal the City of North Bend stated there was a certificate of water availability for half of the project from primary water purveyor, Sallal Water Association. But, unless Sallal negotiated a water agreement with the City of North Bend or found other water rights, it only had enough water for phase one of the development, or approximately 100 units.

The City of North Bend provided an auxiliary water certificate, stating it would provide water for the second phase if needed. The city also stated that no building permits would be approved for phase two until it had proof water was available.

The hearing examiner ruled that state law – and the city’s own municipal code – call for proof of water availability before final plat approval and that proof cannot be delayed until the building permit stage.

Jean Buckner from FOSVT issued a statement about the hearing examiner’s appeal denial, saying:

“Though we are not surprised by his decision, we are disappointed that he reached the decision he did. We know there are several other cases which have gone through many of the same losses before finally prevailing at the state supreme court level. We are still discussing the results with our legal council and have not yet reached a decision as to whether we will be appealing the hearing examiner’s decision. Although as previously mentioned, we are disappointed with the hearing examiner’s response, we are encouraged that he recognized that water has not been guaranteed for both phases of the proposed Cedar River Apartment Complex. It appears that before the project gets final approval, the City of North Bend and Sallal will have to get the water situation sorted out. Our group will continue to make sure that the protection of our forests, fish and wild life, water for drinking and rivers, and our open spaces our at the forefront as we move forward.  We will continue to inform our members as decisions are reached.”

It appears, though, that the developer, Shelter Holdings, has no plans to wait to see if Sallal and the City of North come to a water agreement. According to North Bend Community Development Director David Miller, Shelter Holdings requested water service from North Bend during the appeal period, after Sallal informed them they were out of water. He added, “At present  that is their only option.”

North Bend Public Works Director Mark Rigos explained Shelter Holdings may construct the 212-unit apartment complex in one phase, and is requesting to use North Bend’s water supply for the whole project. He said to meet the appeal condition of water supply for the entire project prior to final plat approval, the developer is proposing to extend a watermain from the city’s system on North Bend Way to the site.

Rigos explained, “If the water service purveyor (Sallal) is unable or unwilling to provide water, then the adjacent purveyor (City of North Bend) is bound to provide water. Because of the potential legal exposure and the binding decision by the Hearing Examiner, the City would provide water for the apartment complex at the developer’s request.”

To utilize this water solution for the project, a Developer Extension Agreement (DEA) would have to be approved by the North Bend city council before the watermain could be physically extended. The DEA has not been prepared yet as water service negotiations between the city and Shelter Holdings are not complete.
The project’s SEPA determination is still subject to appeal through the Superior Court. That appeal period lasts for 21 days following the hearing examiner’s decision on the above appeal, which was handed down on October 25th.
When all appeals are exhausted, the city expects the project to move forward.

 

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