Snoqualmie Mill Site Development moves into Environmental Impact public comment period

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.”

Map of the 3 Planning areas of the phased Mill Site Development Project. Planning area 1 would occur first.

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.

Mill Site Planning Area 1 Conceptual Design – Main Street viewpoint

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 mhofman@snoqualmiewa.gov 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.

Conceptual image of west viewpoint of Mill Site ‘Main Street’ area

Comments

  1. I thought this project was canceled when the Snoqualmie Tribe purchased the Salish Lodge and surrounding land? Currently, driving down Snoqualmie Parkway toward the falls is a beautiful sight. Do we really want to see the hillside transformed into shopping and apartments?

    • Danna McCall says

      The Salish Lodge Expansion project was cancelled. This project is located further down Millpond Road on the mill site.

  2. Chelsey S. says

    I agree. I say no developments over 2 stories. The wording of the article says housing may be on the second floors and above. We need to keep the natural beauty the main view, not a man made structure.

  3. Natalie Williams says

    The Millpond Road area should stay natural. Did they get permission from our Snoqualmie Tribe?

  4. James Blackmon says

    I live in downtown Snoqualmie and I love the area; I’ve been resident for 22yrs. Please hire an environmental company. We don’t want a construction company that dumps all chemicals on the ground like oils ,paints, concretes. Use a company that is mindful like the Snoqualmie Tribe used when they built the casino. I think we live in paradise and please help keep it that way for our grand kids.

  5. Chris Anderson says

    Between the ambience of the gravel pit, the calming sounds of the log truck traffic, and the relaxed atmosphere of the race track, I think that’ll be a perfect spot for my artisan firewood boutique.

  6. David Eiffert says

    I don’t believe the amphitheater is off the table.
    In the Master Drainage Plan, Figures 2-2 and 2-3, listed as the Active Landscape Open Space (including Public Assembly Areas) in light green toward the center of the drawing is clearly the amphitheater. On page 2-34, it is stated that “The outdoor performance space would be eliminated in this alternative at the request of the applicant”, though on page 2-35 the space is clearly listed. It states there will be a 3.7 acre grassy area with a 2,000 square foot stage, accommodating 5,000 attendees at concerts to be held twice per week from June through September. On the same page, under 3., there is a “no action alternative’. It is unclear to me whether the DEIS is being submitted for approval based on the intention to build the outdoor performance space or not. The verbiage is self-conflicting and ambiguous. Is the amphitheater to be built or not? Does the language indicating that it is allowed remain from earlier presentations because no one thought to remove it, or to allow it to squeak through uncontested?

    During the last round of presentations and input opportunities, mid-year 2017, it was very clear from public input that valley citizens did not want the amphitheater to be allowed as a part of the development. The council chambers were packed by citizens not wanting it. Even Tom Sroufe expressed surprise at the strength of the sentiments. The reasons given were numerous: Traffic, danger from concert attendees leaving concerts intoxicated, and noise, which is my chief concern. I already have to tolerate the over-amplified outdoor concerts held at the Snoqualmie Casino, and the Mill is much closer to my home, which is just over a mile from the potential amphitheater per the DEIS maps.

    • Or from the residents surrounding this site. The people born and raised here in this beautiful Valley have put up with an awful lot of trash and mostly because of out of State influence.

    • We are about 2 miles from the site and there are times that we can’t even hear one another due to the races at Dirt Fish. Not to mention when the racers come to the site. We came home one day driving through Meadowbrook and were harassed by a driver who apparently thought us driving the speed limit was fast enough for him. I said to my husband that this dude is surely going to Dirt Fish. And sure enough we ended up seeing this little black number turning in at Dirt Fish. Took quite a bit for us to keep up so we could see it.

  7. Maybe we should consider making Snoqualmie Parkway a six or eight lane highway. Enough already. Here comes the dump trucks and silt!

  8. Very exited for this and much needed here in the Snoqualmie Valley. Looking forward to visiting with our family and friends!

    • David Eiffert says

      I would urge you to reconsider the benefit of the amphitheater aspect. Imagine five thousand people twice a week descending on the site, clogging the streets, taking intoxicants, and encouraging Amplified music being broadcast out over town. I don’t think that’s anything that we need and it will degrade the community. I believe the rest of the project is very positive, however.

  9. Here comes “Phase 3”. Not called that anymore, but that’s what it is. It will require a new bridge over the river, extending the parkway (just wait). The traffic on the Parkway from I-90 to 202 will be much higher than today. It is nearing replacement age; who is going to pay for that? Yeah, us, through a new tax/levy. The 2x/week concerts will happen – it never actually gets removed from the documents, does it? And does anyone other than the developers and our city leaders actually want this development? A majority? No.

    Mark my words, it WILL happen. It will be forced through no matter how much the residents are against it. No matter how many pollution impacts are documented (Superfund site…). Our leaders want it, so it will happen – that’s the way they work. Listen to us? Not a chance. Fill the council comment documents. Fill the comment periods during meetings. Try to prove me wrong. I’d like it if I were wrong.

  10. David Eiffert says

    Prove yourself wrong, Mike! Submit those comments and attend those meetings, virtual or not. Remember, although you cannot stop progress, you can define it. Our elected officials are there to represent us, and may not disregard the wishes of the majority.

  11. Monica Lowney says

    If you live in the Snoqualmie Valley and are opposed to this huge development please join citizens to help our efforts in the multiple discrepancies found in the DEIS for the Mill Site. Approximately 15 citizens spoke against the project May 20th, 2020 in a city zoom meeting citing insufficient traffic data, lack of data, and inaccurate claims in the report. Over 50 attended this meeting.

    For example the report states the Meadowbrook single lane bridge near our high school is a double lane bridge, which is untrue. This is an very old single lane bridge and the plan directs high traffic volume for cars and heavy trucks over this bridge. The Mill Pond/Borst Lake is not included in the report as an impact while citizens know its history of contamination and that it is in the flood zone which will impact the environment and this development.
    Citizens are paying a Certified Traffic Engineer and a Land Use Consultant to challenge the inaccuracies and lack of data within this DEIS. Please refer to the GoFundMe website and search the name ” Stop the Mill Madness” to help support our efforts. The deadline for written public comment to the city is June 11th. I encourage you to write the city and get involved. This is a regional issue and you do not have to be a City of Snoqualmie resident to be involved. Thank you for your help!
    STOP THE MILL MADNESS on GoFundMe.com
    Monica Lowney- Concerned Citizen

  12. Monica Lowney says

    STOP THE MILL MADNESS @ GoFundMe.com organized by Cristie Coffing
    Please visit GoFundMe to help citizens pay for a certified traffic engineer and land use consultant to challenge the DEIS which is full of inaccuracies and lacks updated traffic data. The deadline for public comment is June 11th. Please write the city with your concerns or email me at monicalowney14@aol.com for more information. This is a regional issue that will effect the entire Snoqualmie Valley. Please do not stay silent! Thank You!
    Monica Lowney-Concerned Citizen

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