Snoqualmie City Council upheld an earlier planning commission decision on March 28 by rejecting 10 appeals filed by residents regarding a proposed town center development.
The Rails/Hovinga development, brought to the city by a private owner, is currently undergoing planning permission and civil engineering review. Jason Rogers, the city’s director of community development, said he had no timeline for how long that might take.
The project proposes to construct a three-story, 35-foot-high mixed-use building on a 9,000 square foot vacant lot along Maple Avenue. The first floor would feature a mix of office and retail space and rear parking. The upper floors would include 11 apartments and a rooftop with amenities.
Because the lot is in the downtown district of the city, it had to meet design standards set by the city’s municipal code that are intended to protect the historic aesthetic of downtown Snoqualmie. Whether a development meets these standards is up to the city’s Historic Design Review Board, which must grant approval before building permits are issued.
The city’s planning commission, acting as a review committee, approved the project design with minor changes at its Jan. 18 meeting. But 10 residents – at least six of whom live on Maple Avenue – have appealed the decision.
The city council was then tasked with deciding whether these appeals should be denied or granted and referred to the planning commission.
Dane Stokes, a Snoqualmie resident who served as the callers’ spokesman at the March 14 city council meeting, said the callers and 15 other neighborhood residents believe the designs violated the city’s municipal code.
In its rebuttal of the appeals, city staff wrote that eight of the 10 appeals did not identify the legal grounds for an appeal. On the two remaining appeals – including one submitted by Stokes – city staff said they had failed to show that the historic design review board was “clearly wrong”.
After delaying a decision at its March 14 meeting until city staff could provide council with planning commission meeting transcripts, council voted 5-2 on March 28 to reject and reject the plans. 10 calls. Council members Ethan Benson and Matt Laase voted dissenting.
In an interview, Laase said, based on what was shared in the filing, that he felt “there were errors in the process”, but was unable to elaborate further. due to the quasi-judicial nature of the proceedings.
Quasi-judicial refers to a public hearing where council members act as judge and jury and are bound by the doctrine of appearance of fairness. In these types of hearings, board members are not allowed to do their own research and must base their decision solely on the information presented at the hearing and what is on file.
“I voted no in response to the items shared on file and felt the appeals should have been approved,” Laase said.
At the March 14 council meeting, several council members expressed concern that an objection to the code contained in several of the appellants’ historical design review appeals was not addressed by the city staff in their rebuttal. This code requires that the King County Office of Cultural Resources be notified and receive a report of all new structures built in the historic district of the city.
The city declined to comment on the discrepancy, saying it was still within the legal appeal period of the historic design review board’s decision.