Weyerhaeuser mill annexation gets closer
May 30, 2012
By Michele Mihalovich
Snoqualmie’s annexation of the Weyerhaeuser mill site is a few steps closer to a reality.
First, the City Council, in a 4-2 vote May 14, accepted the changes the King County Council made in April to the interlocal annexation agreement.
The Snoqualmie City Council approved the language of the agreement in November, and then King County’s transportation committee changed some of the language to include restrictions to the DirtFish Rally driving school — on noise, lights, traffic, hours of operation and giving notice to neighbors when the school applies for a special-use permit.
Snoqualmie councilmen Jeff McNichols and Charles Peterson voted against the annexation agreement, citing concerns about possible transportation improvements that might be necessary if development does occur in the area.
Peterson said he thought the city would probably spend more than it ever got back in revenue if the area were to be annexed.
The second development was a May 9 ruling from the Growth Management Hearings Board for the Central Puget Sound Area, in a case filed by Your Snoqualmie Valley, a group opposed to the annexation, against the city of Snoqualmie, Snoqualmie Mill Ventures and Ultimate Rally (doing business as DirtFish Rally School).
According to the board’s final decision and order, it was King County that proposed the city of Snoqualmie annex the area.
The City Council approved new zoning for the annexation area, should the annexation be approved, in October with its ordinance 1086. The area in question is currently zoned heavy industrial by King County.
The preannexation zoning established by the ordinance states that of the 600 acres in the Mill Planning area, 25 acres outside the floodplain are zoned planned residential, the floodplain portion of the area is zoned planned commercial/industrial and areas within the floodway are zoned open space. This will become effective if the annexation is approved.
At the same Oct. 24 City Council meeting, the council approved a preannexation agreement with Snoqualmie Mill Ventures, Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Development Company and DirtFish Rally School, which leases property from Snoqualmie Mill Ventures. Resolution 1115 basically defers an annexation implementation plan because no development had been proposed. It also establishes that the rally school will be an approved use if the annexation goes forward.
According to the ruling, city officials said it’s reasonable that planning for road and utility extension can be deferred until an actual development proposal comes before the council.
The board agreed that deferral would have been a “logical strategy;” however, the city’s comprehensive plan requires an annexation implementation plan prior to an annexation, not after. The board found that the city did violate its own annexation policy.
City attorney Pat Anderson said in a May 24 email that in response to the hearing board ruling, the ordinance and resolution were sent to the state Department of Commerce two weeks ago for the required 60-day review.
Your Snoqualmie Valley, represented by Seattle attorney David Bricklin, also argued that the city violated State Environmental Policy Act laws that require an environmental impact study for annexations.
In adopting Ordinance 1086, the city prepared a SEPA checklist and issued a Determination of Nonsignificance.
Petitioners said the proposed zoning changes should have included a full environmental impact study, but the board disagreed, saying the city’s environmental determination was sufficient.
“We prevailed on all the other GMA (Growth Management Act) issues, and we prevailed on (David) Bricklin’s challenge to our SEPA process, so it turns out our view was correct and all the Your Snoqualmie Valley’s huffing and puffing about SEPA was just so much hot air,” Anderson said in an email to the Star.
A comprehensive plan amendment is being added that will allow a deferral of an annexation implementation plan, and that will go before the planning commission soon, so that the city will be in full compliance, Anderson said.
He also said the city filed the Notice of Intention to Annex with the King County Boundary Review Board last week.
Anderson said the only remaining step is for the City Council to either approve or reject the annexation ordinance itself, and that vote cannot occur until July because of the Boundary Review Board process.
Michele Mihalovich: 392-6434, ext. 246, or email@example.com.