Developer appeals to county over water provider for 212-unit apartment complex planned in North Bend

The City of North Bend could be a step closer to providing water inside the Sallal Water Association service area.

According to the April 16th city council agenda packet, Shelter Holdings – which is planning to build a 212-unit apartment complex and city park on the Dahlgren property along North Bend Way – filed an appeal with the King County Utilities Technical Review Committee requesting that North Bend be the water provider for the project.

The development lies within the city limits of North Bend, but also in the water service area of the Sallal Water Association. Sallal does not have enough water rights left to provide service to the entire project – only to about half of the units – unless it strikes an agreement to purchase wholesale water from the City of North Bend.

North Bend and Sallal have been (on and off) working on a water agreement for many years, but to date have not reached a consensus.

Last fall a hearing examiner required that Shelter Holdings have a water supplier for the entire project lined up before any building permits could be issued. Prior to this Sallal had issued Shelter Holdings a conditional water availability certificate for the project stating that water service was dependent on reaching an agreement with North Bend.

In Shelter Holding’s appeal they state they are ready to proceed with the project, but that Sallal has told its representatives that it will not renew the conditional water availability permit when it expires in early May.

The appeal says Sallal is unable to provide service in a timely manner as required by state law and contends that developers should not have to wait indefinitely “when Sallal has a duty to serve and has demonstrated that it cannot do so in a timely manner.”

The appeal maintains there is no dispute resolution in place in the Sallal Water Association that is capable of resolving the water issue; the association cannot get additional water rights; and there are individual members who oppose granting any new water permits or entering an agreement to purchase water from North Bend.

So Shelter Holdings is requesting the review board grant relief by authorizing the City of North Bend – who issued a back up water availability certificate for the project last summer – to provide water for the project.

On April 16th the North Bend City Council will also consider a motion authorizing the submission of request to intervene in the proceeding and be permitted a ‘seat at the table’ to participate in the appeal hearing as appropriate. Agenda documents say the city would not take a position on the appeal, though.

City of North Bend officials do not know when the county review board might rule on the appeal, but said the committee does meet this week and then again in May.

Interim City Administrator Mark Rigos previously said the city is prepared to supply water to projects in its city limits that are within the Sallal service area if Sallal cannot – explaining that since the city has water, if it does not provide service, it could risk being sued.

The Sallal Board previously stated that it hoped to have a water agreement in place with North Bend by spring 2019. Currently no deal has been reached.

Sallal General Manager Ted Stonebridge said, “Sallal issued a conditional certificate on May 10, 2018 for Phase 2, Dahlgren property. The condition attached to this certificate was based on a potential wholesale water agreement between Sallal and the City of North Bend.  At this time, the condition remains in place and Sallal is unable to determine when and if it will be fulfilled. In addition, Sallal members have petitioned for a vote to amend the bylaws to allow them to vote on the supply contract with the City of North Bend.  That vote has not yet occurred.”

According to North Bend Community Development Director David Miller, Shelter Holdings is hoping to acquire and clear and grade permit for the apartment complex in June or July.

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  • During the annual Sallal membership meeting, it came out that there is federal law against a water purveyor (eg, City of North Bend) invading another water purveyor’s service area (eg, Sallal); this is one of the benefits that Salla enjoys by having their capital loans from the USDA, ie they have federal resources on their side in the event of litigation. SInce the federal law transcends WA state law, this would make it very challenging for this developer, King County, or the City to successfully pursue. Especially since Sallal is committed to serve about 800 unconnected permits presently, ie they’re capable of providing service.

    Another interesting thing is that despite attempts by Sallal to continue negotiations with the City of North Bend on purchasing water from them the City has not been responding for months to those requests, indicating there’s no interest on the part of the City in any agreement and thereby exacerbating the situation. Seems a bit self-inflicting on the part of the City.

  • Living Snoqualmie