Home Building and Conservation Can Go Hand
A creative compromise among a developer, a county, a city and an
environmental organization will protect about 9,600 acres of forest
land adjacent to Snoqualmie Falls. Known as the Snoqualmie
Preservation Initiative, the deal was officially completed this summer. The
success from this initiative blazes a trail for other deals such
as the recently announced Cascade Foothills Initiative.
What started it all was 150 acres directly behind
Snoqualmie Falls and about 3,500 acres of land within the Raging
River basin and the Upper Snoqualmie Valley; views of these lands
from the popular Snoqualmie Falls Park and adjacent lodge could
have been altered by subdivisions across the water.
Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company (Quadrant Homes), King county
and the city of Snoqualmie helped buy the 150 acres south of
the falls, which was slated for the Falls Crossing development.
Quadrant Homes also gave up development rights to 2,800 acres
in the Raging River Valley and 650 acres north of the falls.
In exchange, the city speeded the approval process for Quadrant’s
Snoqualmie Ridge urban village, which ultimately will include 4,400
homes. The agreement enables the construction of new homes and businesses
in an area where infrastructure already exists and growth can be
more easily accommodated. Quadrant also was able to add 268 homes
to the first phase of the project.
Additionally, the developer provided 12.5 acres in Snoqualmie Ridge
to the city of Snoqualmie for building up to 30 units of affordable
County Executive Ron Sims added: "The initiative is a creative
way to advance the public's interests in preserving critical areas.
The teamwork the parties have brought to the table has been outstanding,
and the result is a balanced proposal that will resolve pressing
questions about future development in the Snoqualmie area."
In a recent Seattle Times article, Peter Orser, president of both
Quadrant and the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish
counties said the transaction was a milestone. “Those are
strange bedfellows to be working together,” he said. “You
know it and I know it.”
Another forestland property owner in the Raging River Valley, Fruit
Growers Supply, who owns approximately 6,000 acres adjacent to
the Weyerhaeuser forestlands has also expressed interest in being
part of this initiative and has begun negotiations.
The deal not only protects the state’s second-most-popular
tourist attraction (after Mt. Rainier), it shows that meeting what
may at first appear to be mutually exclusive needs can sometimes
“Conservation and homes are not anathema,” said Gene Duvernoy,
Cascade Land Conservancy’s Executive Director. “This
is one of those cutting-edge projects that change the way we do business.”
Sources: The Seattle Times, The Cascade Land Conservancy and the
Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties