On April 6, 2018, the City of North Bend filed a Notice of Mitigated Determination of Non-significance for a 212-unit apartment complex – Cedar River Apartments – that is proposed for the Dahlgren Property (often referred to as the Mule Pasture) located along North Bend Way near 436th Ave SE.
This notice filing followed city approval the Preliminary Short Plat and Preliminary Binding Site Plan for the project. The approval, though, is subject to a long list of development conditions and will not become effective until after the appeal period for the recently filed MDNS.
A preliminary plat application was filed by the project’s developer over a year ago. Since that time a community group – Friends of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail – had been contesting the project, asking the city to require a full Environmental Review of the property before the project could move forward. The group believes an apartment complex does not belong so close to the base of Mount Si and were hoping to form a consortium to purchase the land and create an ‘all-inclusive outdoor experience park.”
What is SEPA?
Environmental review for development projects is required under the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and begins with a checklist done by the developer. The city then reviews the checklist, relevant documents, the property’s history and consults with other agencies to determine any probable, significant adverse environmental impacts AND to identify potential mitigation required to avoid and/or minimize adverse impacts to the built and natural elements of the environment.
Whether or not a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required (what the Friends of the Trail was requesting) was determined by North Bend Community and Economic Development Director David Miller, who is the city’s SEPA Responsible Official.
Full Environmental Impact Statements are often required when environment impacts cannot be mitigated by the developer. An EIS can tack on additional time and higher costs to proposed developments – and sometimes derail them due to the resulting increased costs. A local example of a development requiring a full EIS is the Mill Site development, which proposes turning the old Weyerhaeuser Lumber mill site into a mixed-use wine and craft beer commercial development.
Back to the Dahlgren property… for months Mr. Miller and staff have been looking at the proposed project, with the city estimating the SEPA determination would be made by the end of February. The possible outcome of the SEPA review was: Determination of Significance, a Determination of Non-significance or a Mitigated Determination of Non-significance.
A Determination of Significance would have triggered the full EIS being pushed for by Friends of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. However, Miller’s review identified mitigation to reduce adverse environmental impacts to a “nonsignificant level” which resulted in the Mitigated Determination of Non-significance filed last week.
According to the filing the “proposal does not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment that cannot be mitigated through compliance with the conditions of this Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) and conformance to the North Bend Municipal Code.”
About the Apartment Complex Project:
Approximately 21 acres will be subdivided into five lots, requiring the demolition of a dilapidated home and barn. The complex will consist of 34 buildings, including 25 townhome buildings, 8 apartment buildings and a leasing office/community center. The buildings will be situated on 17 acres of the site. The remaining 4+ acres (east end of property) will be dedicated to the City of North Bend as a park.
The developer will have to construct storm drainage facilities, sewer, water main and franchise utility extensions; make 2,5000 lineal feet of frontage improvements to North Bend Way, and construct a roundabout at 436th/North Bend Way. Several existing trees along North Bend Way will remain. City code requires protecting 30% of existing trees on the project site.
To see site plans and the full list of conditions required of the developer from the SEPA determination and North Bend Municipal Code, see the Cedar River Apartments Review and Approval document.
There is also another large apartment complex proposed near the Dahlgren property – near the corner of 436th Ave SE and North Bend Way – called River Run. That project has not received pushback from community groups like that of the Cedar River complex.
Time to Comment on Determination
If you have comments you’d like to make on the city’s Threshold of Determination, written comments should be sent to City of North Bend Community and Economic Development, PO Box 896, North Bend WA, 98045, Attn: David Miller, AICP, Director of Community & Economic Development or email@example.com.
Comments must be received by April 23rd at 4:30PM. The City will not take final action on this proposal until after the end of the comment period. Comments provided via email should include “Cedar River Apartments PLN 2016-0246l MDNS Comments” in the subject line.