Letter | Please delay Snoqualmie Mill Site Draft EIS public review until stay home order lifts

[This is a reader submitted letter. Letters to the editor may be emailed to info@livingsnoqualmie.com]

Dear Editor,

I respectfully request that the City of Snoqualmie retract the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Snoqualmie Mill Planned Commercial/Industrial (PCI) Plan, published by the city on April 27. I ask that the city wait to publish the document and start the public review period until after the current restrictions on gatherings are lifted.

The DEIS is a very large, complex document. It contains 2,921 pages, and took the developer, the city, and numerous consultants over three years to create. A DEIS as complex as this deserves careful review by all affected parties. The size and complexity make it extremely difficult for any one individual to review, so this is best accomplished by dividing the work among multiple people. However, the restrictions on gatherings do not allow an effective group effort.

The people of our city will be served best by delaying the review period. The original estimate to create the DEIS by the developer and the city was one year, and instead it took three years. Certainly allowing a few more months before starting the clock on reviewing the document seems appropriate given the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Sincerely,

Richard Scheel, Snoqualmie resident

Comments

  1. Fuzzy Fletcher says

    I agree with Richard. A few more days so that anyone wishing to comment, has a chance, is the right thing to do. We cannot gather in groups to discuss, what’s the rush. I had heard this EIS was supposed to come out this Fall, why now? 60-90 more days will not hurt the project or the developer.

  2. Mayor Matt Larson says

    Per public demand, the developer spent not 1, but 3 years thoroughly addressing all of the concerns expressed by residents during past public hearings. They have also voluntarily asked the City to extend the public comment period by 15 days in light of the circumstances. The Covid crisis has done nothing to impede the submission of written comments. And there is nothing about this project and proposal that has been rushed. They have not only complied with, but have exceeded all required rules and processes to-date.

    • Richard Scheel says

      The fact that it took the developer 3 years to put together the draft EIS is an indication of how extremely complex it is. The DEIS totals 2,921 pages, with a lot of very technical information, much of it compiled by consultants. We, the public, cannot personally afford to employ consultants to review this information – we have to do it ourselves. The massive size of the DEIS necessitates splitting up the work among many people. Although email allows some coordination of that effort, it is far less effective than having in-person meetings, which cannot happen during the COVID-19 shutdown. On top of that, many local residents are currently overwhelmed with keeping up with their job (either front-line workers, or those who are currently working from home) at the same time that they are home schooling their children. That leaves very little time for reviewing 2,921 pages of technical information.
      The city decided to release it and start the 45 day clock for public comment during the COVID-19 shutdown. The city could just as easily decided to wait to release the document until after the shutdown.
      I would also like to point out that Snoqualmie Municipal Code requires that a draft EIS be produced in no more than 180 days. The developer took 3 years. That violated the city code. Also, Governor Inslee’s proclamation 20-28 specifies that local agencies (such as cities) are only allowed to take actions during the state of emergency that are “necessary and routine”, or are necessary to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The State Attorney General issued guidelines to all agencies as to what should be considered “necessary and routine”, and releasing this DEIS very definitely does not fit the Attorney General’s guidelines. The Governor’s proclamation is available at http://mrsc.org/getmedia/81ba5cd2-2db9-4f94-bd0b-287fea080f1f/w3p20-28opengov.aspx, and the Attorney General’s guidance is available at http://mrsc.org/getmedia/36a6b6cf-2ee8-469c-b600-0b6a8fa141f7/w3agcoronaopma2.pdf.aspx.

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