Cedar River library may avoid U.S. permits
By TRACEY COMPTON
Renton Reporter Staff writer
January 17, 2013 · 1:30 PM
Library development in Renton may soon be getting some traction, as city officials have identified the permits necessary to begin work on the Highlands and downtown Renton library projects.
One hurdle the city may not have to face is triggering federal permits and the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for work to renovate the library over the Cedar River.
“We will not trigger any federal Army Corps of Engineers permits as long as we stay above the base flood elevation,” said Chip Vincent, the city’s community and economic development administrator.
Peter Renner, the city’s facilities director, and Vincent at an open house Tuesday night updated the public on the processes that lie ahead for both projects.
Vincent seemed fairly confident based on what the city knows right now about the Cedar River library project that the city could avoid extending its timeline because of federal permits.
“Everything is being done in the design and the planning for the development of this site to not go below the base flood elevation, to ensure we don’t trigger those permits,” he said.
The Cedar River library project will have to go through a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) public-review process. Once the permit applications are submitted, Vincent estimates it will be about a 10- to 12-week review process.
“That is our plan moving forward based on our experience doing other similar projects in the past,” he said. “But you never know. It’s a public process and it’s hard to anticipate or estimate what the public comments are going to be before you’ve started the public review.”
The Highlands library project also involves a SEPA process in which the public can participate. Vincent also estimates a 10- to 12-week process for all the permits involved with the Highlands project.
The SEPA permits for both projects aren’t the only permits or reviews the projects have to go through.
The Highlands library and Sunset redevelopment project is complicated because it involves five-party agreement between the City of Renton, Colpitts Development, Renton Housing Authority, the King County Library System and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“It’s a lot of complexity for one block of land - but worth all the machinations,” said Vincent.
As of Wednesday, the purchase agreement between Colpitts and the RHA was awaiting comments from Colpitts’ attorney.
“I think we’re all getting along really well and I think we all see mutual interest and benefit because we share a common vision. We all own different parts of it and understand everybody has to fulfill their role in order for the entire project to be successful,” said Vincent.
In the public review process for both projects, the public will get to see the proposals and the environmental checklist, as part of SEPA, that identifies the proposal and the environmental impacts associated with it.
Up next in the Cedar River library process is for the city and architect Miller Hull to meet with the Muckleshoot Tribe in early February to hear its concerns about construction over the Cedar River.
The Cedar River is one of the largest salmon-bearing rivers in the area, Vincent said, and the tribe has influence even over federal work on the river.
There will be a “pre-application” meeting Feb. 7 with the architect to look at everything required in the proposal.
Contact Renton Reporter Staff writer Tracey Compton at email@example.com or 425-255-3484, ext. 5052.