MAY 12, 1997
Valley now known not for agriculture or quality of life, but for flooding
If you're as saddened as I am that the Snoqualmie Valley is now best known not for agriculture, recreation, or quality of life, but instead for flooding, hold on to your hip waders, because you aren't going to believe this:
(1) Connor Development is in the permit process for a new "Swiftwater IV" subdivision in Carnation, consisting of 14 homes built on "critter pads" in or near the 100-year Tolt River floodway. These "critter pads," designed to raise the ground floor of each home "one (1) foot above designated flood plain elevations," will be built with materials excavated from just behind the existing Frew levee.
In a letter from King County Water and Land Resources Division Manager Dave Clark to Carnation City Planner Steve Munson, Mr. Clark warns: "Land water excavation along the levee can exacerbate seepage and reduce the structural integrity of the levee, resulting in increased risk of levee damage or failure ... The proposed area of excavation is located where the levee has the least freeboard."
(2) Most of the 14 homes will be built on land that is Carnation city "open space" and in violation of a city ordinance covering "land adjacent to public waters." The ordinance requires the city to designate as open space along the river's edge property "50 feet past the upland edge of the floodway." Not only are the proposed lots not 50 feet away from the floodway, the Connor maps show eight of the lots clearly in the floodway and several as much as 50 feet inside the floodway.
(3) The environmental checklist submitted by Connor to the city of Carnation as part of the permit application process understates the scope of the excavation behind the levee by as much as 2,000%--15,800 cubic feet vs. 13,800 cubic yards! In addition, the permit application is patently wrong in answers to questions concerning wildlife (no mention of nesting bald eagles) and clearcutting of trees and groundcover--3.7 acres claimed vs. 7-plus acres per map.
A letter to local residents from Mayor Jack Stein verifies that this same application was sent to 17 state and county agencies for review. How can these agencies provide accurate feedback to an application that is so far off base? At minimum, Connor should be required to resubmit the application and the city should redistribute it with a letter explaining the reasons why.
(4) Connor Development had all new home buyers in the Swiftwater development sign an agreement not to "protest" any future subdivisions. Despite concerns about how the new development will impact the floodway and their homes, the Swiftwater Homeowner Association and many of its member residents have been forced to abandon their plans to hire an attorney.
This is more than a neighborhood issue. More than a Carnation issue. Developers building in the floodway or floodplain is a concern for all Snoqualmie Valley residents and residents in all flood-ravaged counties in the state.
Don't get mad, get involved! Contact Mayor Jack Stein or City Planner Steve Munson to voice your concerns at 333-4192.
Tim Bowersock, Carnation