North Bend Planning Commission Meets to Discuss Proposed Amendment to Hotel and Motel Performance Standards

On Thursday, September 23rd, the North Bend Planning Commission met to consider whether or not a proposed amendment to the Hotel and Motel Performance Standards in the North Bend Municipal Code (18.10.050) should be recommended to the City Council.

Mike McCarty, Senior Planner for the Community and Economic Development Department, opened the discussion explaining that the amendments were being considered to accommodate potential hotels above the current height limits in two areas of North Bend.

Those locations exit 31 & 34, are currently zoned Interchange Commercial (IC) in the North Bend Municipal Code and “Provide land for different intensities and types of residential, retail, service, business, office, and entertainment uses that complement, enhance, and support residential and other land uses within North Bend.”

To illustrate what these changes may look like if approved, the conceptual images provided by a developer of a possible Wyndham hotel at the outlet mall location were used as an example of what a change from a 35-foot standard (approximately 3 stories) to two hotels in the two locations of up to 65 feet with 10 extra feet for architectural details. *Note 55-foot structures are already allowed in the Interchange Mixed Use (IMU) areas. (pictured in teal areas in image one)

Senior Planner McCarty noted that the proposed changes would accommodate middle-of-the-market hotels, which North Bend currently lacks. The city has several budget options, and the Salish Lodge & Spa is available to fit a higher-end market. Still, a middle-of-the-road option would help businesses related to tourism, passersby and residents out of town guests.

According to McCarty, these city areas are already related to tourism and businesses, are not located in residential areas and would not be visible from any homes. Therefore, city staff supports the proposed amendments to the municipal code.

During the public comment period, the amendment had many supporters among the business community. Beth Burrows, owner of the North Bend Theatre, Lucas Haines speaking for the North Bend Downtown Foundation and as one of the owners of Volition Brewing, Luke Talbott owner of Compass Outdoor Adventures, Real Estate agent Karin Simpson and Cherie Cooper, a property owner all expressed support for the code changes.

Conceptual image of the hotel along Bendigo Blvd

Chelsea Stevens, one of the owners of the proposed Wyndham project, also supported the amendment explaining that they must comply with city standards and believes city staff has been careful in making those changes. She noted that not only will the new hotel not block the view of Mt. Si, but it will provide a new view from the rooftop bar. Architect Michael Desmarteau agreed, saying drastic changes were made to the proposed hotel design to fit the North Bend aesthetic.

Commissioner Towe expressed concern that even though the proposed changes were not intended to be about a specific hotel, the testimony seemed to be about a specific project. Community & Economic Development Director Rebecca Deming noted that showing the prospective hotel’s conceptual images was important to show what the new height limits would look like.

The lone dissenting commenter, North Bend resident Kevin Brewster, expressed concern for the site lines in town, not only of Mt. Si but also Rattlesnake Ridge and Mount Washington. He stated he thinks it’s important to keep tall buildings under control to preserve views all over town and that hotels should make do with the height limits as they stand. The city reports one comment in favor and five against via email within the public commenting time frame.

The public hearing portion of the meeting was closed by Commissioner Torguson at 7:43 pm, and the meeting was opened for the Commissioners to discuss their thoughts. Most expressed support for the changes, with a few requests for small changes to the language contained in the code to eliminate the appearance of specifically changing the code to accommodate a particular hotel chain.

Commissioner Towe spoke up again, expressing concerns about the limitations within the amendment allowing for only two hotels and wanting assurance that the trees along Bendigo Blvd. be protected. Senior Planner McCarty explained the trees belong to the city, not the property owner, are considered the gateway to the city and the design standard is to keep them.

After more discussion regarding the adequacy of infrastructure capacity (water, sewer) for such projects, it was decided to continue the discussion until the next meeting on October 14th when the changes to language may be finalized.

Comments

  1. I am interested in the changes to the language so it doesn’t appear changes made for one or too hotels. It seems the truth is thst it is being changed specifically for those hotels. Why? The changes .. are.. for these hotels. That is the transparent answer. We see that intent.

    • Danna McCall says

      Hello. I am the City of North Bend communications manager and thought I could provide some information. Over the past two years, the City has been approached by a number of potential hotel developers – through the conversations it prompted staff to review the current hotel/motel performance standards in the associated commercial zoning areas. As part of the review and learnings from potential hoteliers on the local economics, it was determined that the current standards, most specifically height, do not provide an opportunity for a mid-market hotel. The proposed changes are intended to create the conditions which would allow for a mid-market hotel to be built and successfully operate in City zoning areas located adjacent to freeway exits 31 & 34. Those zones currently permit hotels and include buffers that minimize the impact to residential areas and the surrounding viewshed. The Wyndham project application at the outlet mall is the only applicant who has been willing to at least invest the time and money to provide a conceptual design that would meet the new standards and their financial constraints. At this time the City has not been approached by a developer wanting to build a second mid-market hotel within the Interchange Commercial zone for which the standards amendments are being considered.

  2. The height is not an issue as much as placement. The motel blocks the view in the front of the mall. Should be in the back by ninetendo

  3. Making space for construction of one or more mid market hotels in North Bend will support businesses in the local area as well as providing visitors with a place to stay when they visit our beautiful city. City Planners have done a great job with regard to establishing appropriate zoning adjacent to Interstate 90 and near restaurants and other amenities. I for one do not see a problem with using a design for one hotelier that is interested in investing in our city as a basis for illustrating what the city intends.

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