On Monday, April 27, 2020 the City of Snoqualmie made public the long awaited Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the large, proposed Mill Site Development project.
The DEIS was prepared by the owner and developer of 261-acre Planned Commercial/Industrial (PCI) site. The site is located within the Snoqualmie city limits and is owned by Snoqualmie Mill Ventures LLC. Prior to the land sale about 10 years ago, it was the site of a Weyerhaeuser lumber mill for nearly 100 years. The adjacent Mill Pond/Borst Lake is not part of the planned development. It is still owned by Weyerhaeuser.
About two-thirds of the Mill Site is planned to be kept as open space, including natural areas, trails, habitat and flood storage. The developed area would be done in three stages: Planning area 1, Planning area 2 and then Planning area 3, with less certainty in the latter phases. The phased project is proposed to occur over the next 10-15 years.
According to the DEIS, “Planning Area 1 would be developed for a mix of employment, retail, and residential activities, organized in a pedestrian-oriented village center adjacent to a ‘main street.’ Approximately 160
housing units are proposed on the second and higher floors of mixed-use buildings… Apartments would be for rent, at market rates, and would be a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, averaging approximately 835 square feet in area.”
If Snoqualmie Mill’s vision is realized, the preferred concept for the area will be wine-related uses, including wine production, wine tasting and other supportive wine-related uses, restaurants, event space and housing.
Mill Site Developer Tom Sroufe said multiple wineries had previously shown interest in the potential development, but explained they will have to re-evaluate that interest once the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis shake out.
Read our previous article on the Envisioned Mill Site Development HERE.
It’s been three years since Snoqualmie Mill Ventures submitted a master development plan application for review by city staff. Since that time the developer has been preparing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The purpose of the DEIS to identify all impacts (traffic, water, environmental, pollutants, views, archeological, noise, etc) caused by the development and 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 example mitigation proposals contained in the DEIS [for phase 1] include restructuring part of Millpond Road; adding a full stoplight at Fisher Creek and Snoqualmie Parkway intersection; treatment of water that runs off impervious surfaces and into the Snoqualmie River; a bottomless culvert under the realigned portion of SE Mill Pond Road to allow for passage of flood waters, small mammals, carnivores, and amphibians; cleanup and remediation of legacy contamination in Planning Areas 2 and 3 where these contaminants have been located. [These a just a few examples of many contained within the large DEIS document]
Developing the DEIS took three years [in part] due to the site previously being a lumber mill and thus has environmental and contamination issues; its location adjacent the Snoqualmie River; and the size and lengthy timeframe for the proposed development. The DEIS itself is nearly 3,000 pages (including appendices) for the large, complicated site.
Mill Site Developer and North Bend resident, Tom Sroufe, said the DEIS took such a long time because how seriously they took it. He explained they wanted to be thorough, not be surprised by anything. They asked the consultants hired to complete the DEIS to address any impacts ahead of time.
The first version of the DEIS was presented to the City of Snoqualmie about a year ago. The city’s consultants then provided comments and further work was done to develop the extensive document.
Sroufe commented, “We did the best we could to identify any impact to the community and believe there are no significant negative impact that cannot be mitigated.”
City of Snoqualmie Community Development Director Mark Hofman explained the project has now entered a legally required public [and state agency] comment period, which will last 45 days.
Hofman said the goal now is to get as many eyes on the document as possible to produce as many comments as possible, which will make the EIS even stronger to fully mitigate negative impacts.
After the public comment period ends, Mill Site Ventures will then be required to address every comment provided.
According to City of Snoqualmie attorney Bob Sterbank, the city will also evaluate the comments received, make any changes it determines appropriate to the various chapters of the DEIS and appendices, and prepare an additional chapter or addendum that includes responses to comments related to factual corrections or where the City determines that the comment(s) does not warrant further response.
The City then issues the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). That FEIS will accompany the proposed Planned Commercial / Industrial Plan (PCI Plan) when it goes to the Planning Commission for a public hearing. The planning commission will then make a recommendation to the City Council as to whether to approve/accept the PCI Plan and FEIS. A developer agreement is also expected be drafted between the two parties if/when the project moves forward.
Written comment on the DEIS taken through June 11th: the review and comment period has been extended from 30 to 45 days for this Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Written comments may be submitted through June 11, 2020 and addressed to Mark Hofman, SEPA Responsible Official, City of Snoqualmie, PO Box 987, Snoqualmie, WA 98065. Comments may alternatively be emailed to email@example.com or MillSiteEIS@snoqualmiewa.gov.
Oral comment taken on May 20th at 4PM: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency and the statewide stay home order, the city will take oral comment during a remote online meeting rather than in person. The meeting is scheduled for May 20, 2020 at 4PM. The city said call-in information will be provided at a later date and posted on the city website calendar. [To be notified directly about the meeting information, sign up for Notify Me and choose “Mill DEIS”]
Via news release the city state, “Approval of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement would not by itself authorize any physical construction on the site. If approved, Snoqualmie Mill Ventures would need to submit an application to physically develop the property.”
If that application were approved, the site would be redeveloped over a period of approximately 10 to 15 years.
For more information, visit the Mill Site Development Project page.