Hamilton, WA

The town of Hamilton today

hamilton, washington

Tucked in a deep oxbow of the Skagit River, Hamilton has endured a serious flood roughly every three to four years. Today the town is home to about 300 people with ninety percent of the residential area located within the floodplain, offering few financially feasible options for those who want to escape the floods and stay in their beloved town.
In 2018, Hamilton sought Forterra’s help in funding the purchase of a 48-acre parcel of land, outside of the floodplain, to serve as the town’s urban growth area out of the river’s reach. Forterra bought the property in 2019 with donated funds and worked with the community on a neighborhood design that embodies sustainability and residents’ need for attainably priced housing, business, and community space.
Providing the community an opportunity to move to higher ground will enable further restoration of a section of the Skagit that serves as a spawning site for five native species of Pacific salmon, producing 60% of the Puget Sound’s endangered Chinook salmon. This stretch of river is also the ancestral land for local tribes — including the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Upper Skagit Indian Tribe and Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe — who have led restoration work on the Skagit for decades. Continued restoration along the Skagit will further support the threatened salmon and orca populations while preserving our region’s natural legacy.

A NEW CHAPTER FOR A HISTORIC TOWN

Since 2018, Forterra has worked closely with the town’s leadership and community members to advance their vision on a neighborhood design that embodies sustainability and residents’ need for attainably priced housing, business, and community space. Major benchmarks included acquiring the property, commissioning a triple net-zero feasibility study, and helping the town update its zoning codes.
In February 2021, the Hamilton Town Council approved the new neighborhood’s conceptual master plan that was created in partnership with an exceptional architect team through a community-driven effort. This community-driven development embodies sustainability, and honors the Town’s rich history, culture, and natural assets. Likely features of the project include:
  • Affordable homes for current Hamilton residents
  • Dining, retail, and community spaces
  • Buildings constructed from locally- and responsibly-sourced building material
  • Ample open space, which could include playgrounds, parks, and natural areas
  • “Net Zero” goals for energy consumption, water use, and carbon emissions
  • Advanced wastewater and sewage treatment avoiding negative environmental impacts

Floodplains by Design Funding Opportunity

Forterra and partners are applying for a Department of Ecology Floodplains by Design Grant. The grant will directly support the work in Hamilton in three main ways:
  1. Developing a Community Emergency Education and Preparedness Program: Materials and outreach efforts will be developed to ensure that homeowners understand their options, responsibilities, and liabilities related to owning property in the floodway.
  2. Floodplain Acquisitions: Project development will include educating property owners on voluntary buyout options, property owner negotiations, due diligence and closing transactions. The proposal is to acquire 9-12 properties in the floodplain.
  3. Structure Demo and Replanting/Restoration: Once properties with structures are acquired, Forterra can begin to restore the land. Demolition will include removal of all structures including infrastructure like septic tanks, foundations, and utilities. All materials and trash will be removed and the sites will be planted with native species that will contribute to natural floodplain functions.

overview

For decades, the town of Hamilton has faced historic floods. Hamilton sought Forterra’s help in funding the purchase of a 48-acre parcel of land to serve as the town’s urban growth area out of the river’s reach. Together they are working with residents to create new housing options that address these economic and environmental concerns.

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Forterra and partners are applying for a Department of Ecology Floodplains by Design Grant to develop a Community Flood Education and Preparedness program, support property owners with voluntarily selling their vulnerable properties through a buy-out program and restore the floodway through structure demolition, septic removal and planting of native species on acquired properties.

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