200-HOME HOUSING TRACT IN SNOQUALMIE STIRS UP OLD DEBATES

Posted by Diego Vitelli on Thursday, March 31st, 2016 at 11:36am.

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Snoqualmie Falls 

Snoqualmie Falls is undoubtedly one of Washington's many cherished natural landscapes that is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people each year. Whether it's during the calm of a late summer as the last of winter runoffs finally hit the cliff or in the aftermath of a midwinter storm that brings on the magnificent and powerful force of all the waters battling to be the first to make the profound jump off its narrow openings. 


Snoqualmie and the surrounding area has gone through tremendous growth through the last 15+ years and with a lot of debate as to whether it is beneficial or not with both sides taking staunch positions. The outlook is that growth and development will continue to happen as housing options continue to be strained by availability of affordable housing and cities see a viable positive economic impact by using what land is available for development. Like it or not, our economy relies heavily on the housing sector. Many believe housing starts are what get the massive economic ball rolling and the result of the 2007 Financial Meltdown was that housing starts that came to a halt and it has been a long slow process for the economy to recover. Housing starts have revved up again in the last couple years as the economy's slow recovery starts to pick up steam and once again in large part due to the housing sector getting back to stable ground. But not everyone is keen on seeing the latest wave of new housing in their areas and Snoqualmie in particular has been in the crosshairs of this debate for many years as it looked to become a more thriving city. One that could attract tax, income and tourist dollars that it felt would improve the quality of life for those who lived there already and those who chose to visit, move to or do business in the area. 

Not everyone has shared in the opinion of life being better as a result of the development and growth, especially those who were here before any major action was taken to develop the land. Once the city got approval to annex 1300 acres in the mid-1990s  to develop what is now called Snoqualmie Ridge I, the debates started and haven't ever really stopped since. In many cases it has only been flamed with the annexation of an additional 734 acres in 2004 which has become Snoqualmie Ridge II which includes the new hospital and new Timber Ridge Elementary that will open this coming Fall of 2016.  This area of development came to a screeching stop half way through in response to the Great Recession and is just now back in full swing of developing the land that sat cleared for many years. 

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The latest heated debate has been around the 2012 annexation of 593 acres of the former Weyerhaeuser Mill Site and Mill Pond that will add 200 new homes to the area along with a planned hotel and other businesses. This has been largely fueled by the backlash of the Snoqualmie Tribe who maintain the lands are sacred burial grounds. Both the City of Snoqualmie and the Snoqualmie Tribe and its supporters have their point of views, reports and testimonies that warrant the moving forward with or halting of the project. It is currently fully underway with the near completion of a new roundabout aimed at diverting increased traffic more smoothly around the highly popular Salish Lodge and Snoqualmie Falls park entrance and into the newer planned development, onto Old Snoqualmie or up to Snoqualmie Ridge.

There has always been a divide amongst those for and against the development in the area that geographically consisted of those 'in the valley' and those 'in the Ridge'. As a long time resident of Snoqualmie Ridge, I've seen the area grow and develop into a thriving city that through its growth has provided affordable housing options that simply are not unattainable in a large geographical areas like say Issaquah, Sammamish or Bellevue. Many good people have moved to the area, taken care of their homes and yards and provided economic opportunities and stimulus to both The Valley and The Ridge. Those on the other side of the argument will say that overdevelopment is choking and killing off our natural resources by way of clearcutting and overpopulation.

What side of this debate are you on?

If you live in the area, how has the development of Snoqualmie Ridge impacted you on a positive or negative level?

How do you think the additional development of Mill Pond will impact the area?

If you don't live in the area but have considered Snoqualmie, what are your thoughts?

Why are you going to move to the area and why are you not if you've decided against it?

I believe everyone's voices should be heard and in a manner that is is respectful of the opposing position. Healthy debates are good so let's make sure to keep it that way because I believe there are great people in both The Valley and The Ridge and many more will come with continued growth. We've all got to live together and we all want to enjoy what is truly an amazing small slice of this great big Earth. We've got to respect what was, care for what has become and what will become.

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