After moving through the Planning & Community Committee following a public meeting and the Economic Development Committee, the amendments to the Hotel Performance Standards in the North Bend city code (RCW 18.10. 050) have finally been approved by the Council, paving the way for a hotel in the commercial interchange zone near exit 31.
At the city council meeting of December 7th, city staff recommended approval saying the amendments are consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan and support development of a much-needed use within the city that might not otherwise be possible.
Councilmember Koellen asked a clarifying question regarding tree protection along Bendigo Boulevard, to which Senior Planner Mike McCarty answered the trees are part of landscape regulations and would be retained.
During the public comment period, three North Bend citizens spoke out against the amendment to the Hotel Performance Standards. Michael Thomas, a vocal opponent of city development, expressed concerns over the height standard changes.
Thomas stated he is concerned the ordinance contains nothing to address environmental concerns such as sewer, water, noise, light pollution and other “ill effects of a hotel of this size and density.”
Mr. Thomas also conveyed concerns over the failure of the past proposed hotel on the corner of Bendigo and South Fork Ave SW and the resulting blight, saying the city track record on economic development is poor. Thomas feels the matter needs additional study, and citizens would be more supportive of a lower-height hotel.
Residents Steve Repanich and Jeff Krueger echoed Thomas’ comments, with Krueger adding that he feels North Bend citizens feel “beat down” and figure their voices don’t matter anymore. They both hoped that the Council would take their comments and consider them in their decision.
The motion to approve the amendments was then put forward by councilmember Miller and seconded by Councilmember Rosen, who noted a lot of work went into the amendments and said this is a good opportunity for the community to have this hotel ultimately built.
Chris Garcia, who was attending his last meeting as a council member, spoke up, saying the developers of the former hotel behind Safeway decided not to move forward. It was a business decision, and the city didn’t do anything to discourage the hotel. Garcia noted, “the people pulled the plug and left.”
As for concerns over water concurrency, Garcia explained that the former hotel lost theirs, so the water reserved for that hotel will be used by the new hotel. He went on to say the city is also concerned about the condition of the outlet mall, and hopefully, a new hotel will be a way for them to drum up business and reinvest in the mall.
Garcia finished by saying, calling the mall and the failed hotel a bad decision by the city is a “stretch.” The city isn’t sponsoring or funding either business, they are private businesses, and the city can only encourage their success.
The motion to approve the amendments to the hotel performance standards was carried unanimously.