After One Year Delay, Snoqualmie City Council to Start Affordable Housing Tax Exemption Process; Group Launches Opposition Petition

One year after the it became public knowledge that non-profit housing developer, Imagine Housing, wanted to develop, Timber Falls, a 160-unit affordable housing apartment complex in Snoqualmie, the series of steps to make it a reality are back on the Snoqualmie City Council’s plate.

Last June, city council was set to begin taking those steps when some residents, many from the Eagle Point neighborhood where the project is planned, voiced objections.  Most of those objections dealt with the size and density of the project, traffic impacts and opposition to the property tax exemption Imagine Housing will request of the city council to make the development more viable.

The process was halted last summer when city officials informed Imagine Housing that the utility infrastructure for land parcel S-20 would  not be completed until 2013. In the meantime, and per the council’s request, Imagine Housing was asked to do community outreach regarding the proposed apartment complex.

Land parcel S-20 in Eagle Point neighborhood of Snoqualmie Ridge

Land parcel S-20 in Eagle Point neighborhood of Snoqualmie Ridge

Over the winter, Imagine Housing held two community meetings and additionally, city officials held a town hall meeting to answer residents’ questions about the low-income development.

Many of the questions centered around the 8-year land property tax exemption Imagine Housing will ask of the city; something even Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson stated is necessary.

In an earlier story on the topic Mayor Larson explained, “Imagine [Housing] is also proposing to provide costly on site support staffing/services to assure that the project is well-managed and supervised,” mitigating fears about crime, drugs, etc. often associated with large apartment complexes.  The mayor added,  “Without financial assistance, such services and oversight could not be provided.”

A group of community members don’t agree, though, and recently launched a petition opposing the tax exemption.  The group said it will be knocking on doors to gather signatures, as well circulating the online petition.

One year after the initial process began, and the Snoqualmie City Council is now preparing to take a first step that could pave the way for Imagine Housing to formally request the debated tax exemption.

Before the next city council meeting there will be a public hearing on the city’s intent to designate land parcel S-20 as “The Initial Residential Targeted D Area For Exemption From Ad Valorm Real Property Taxation.”

According to Washington State Law, this designation has to occur before a tax exemption request for the land can be heard and/or granted.  If the council does designate the land as “Targeted D,” then Imagine Housing can request land property taxes for their project be waived for 8 years.

The public hearing happens Monday, June 24, 2013, at 7PM in Council Chambers at Snoqualmie City Hall, 38624 SE River Street. Written or electronic comments will be accepted by the City Clerk until noon on June 24th. Written comments can be sent to PO Box 987, Snoqualmie WA 98065; in person at 38624 SE River Street; or electronically at jwarren@ci.snoqualmie.wa.us

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