Final stretch for subarea plan
October 2, 2008 · Updated 2:50 PM
FALL CITY _ After two years of planning, writing and revising,
the King County Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed Fall City
Subarea Plan on May 15.
But some members of the Citizen's Advisory Committee (CAC) _
the group formed to draft the first version _ oppose some of the
amendments written by Councilmember David Irons. Irons proposed the
changes when the Growth Management Unincorporated Areas Committee
reviewed the document in March.
However, Irons said that the CAC was involved in just the
beginning phases of the plan and that it would probably contract and grow as
more people gave their input.
"Some people are having a hard time fathoming that the process
isn't complete yet," he said. "When the CAC finished the draft, it was one
step of the process."
"The public gave input on the vision, but it didn't have input on
the draft until it came to council," Irons added.
Kari Gilje, a member of the CAC, disagreed.
"During the formation of the plan there would be 25 to 200 people at
the CAC meetings," she said. "It seemed to us that it was a large public
process [spanning] two years."
And some Fall City residents said that the CAC's recommended plan
reflects the wishes of the community more than Irons' proposal. One
area of contention is the amendment that would allow three areas in the city
to have higher densities than the CAC and King County Executive Ron
Sims originally proposed.
The section includes an 8-acre parcel along State Route 202 near
323rd Avenue Southeast; a 30-acre parcel near the Herbfarm and a 35-acre
parcel near Wells Farm & Nursery.
Irons said that it was a "fairness issue" that led him to pull those
additional lots into an R-4 classification, or one home per four acres, instead
of the proposed one house for every five acres. The properties are
currently zoned R-4.
"When we're downzoning, if a property is densely populated on
three sides of you, then we don't want to downzone your property," he
said, noting that the lots around the Herbfarm and Wells Farm have
probably reached their maximum growth.
But Gilje said they always heard that the community wanted to
retain Fall City's rural character and one way to achieve that would be to
preserve as much open space in the city as possible.
"It seems like it'll benefit a few property owners," she said.
"They're not looking at what is in the best
interest of the community."
"We [zoned it RA-5] for fairness to everyone because we didn't
want to give special treatment," added Irene Pike, another member of the CAC.
If Irons' proposal is accepted, the 73 parcels in the three areas
could potentially accommodate as few as 82 additional homes and as many as
287 if maximum buildout were achieved on each lot.
Gilje and Pike were also concerned with Irons' proposal to rezone the
strip of buildings behind the current business district from R-4 to
Community Business. They said that the current space for businesses is adequate
for the city, and community members are concerned that the business
district will move another block toward residential areas.
"And they don't want chain stores or for it to look like a strip mall,"
Gilje said. "They want small, rural businesses and some people wonder
what those businesses would look like."
Irons said that the rezone would allow current owners to expand
their businesses by placing drainfields on the extra land, but since it is
zoned community business, they could also use the land as office or retail space
to generate income.
"You have failing septic systems in Fall City and the only solution
I came up with is for local business owners to acquire the lots behind
them and to use that property as a drainfield," he said. "It's not the
best option in the world, but I don't hear any other options coming up."
As proposed, the 14 lots would remain R-4 until someone decides
to take advantage of the business zoning. Once that happens, the entire
2-acre block will revert to Community Business, which would raise the taxes
for that area.
The CAC was also concerned that the word "sewers" had been added
to the Subarea Plan. Gilje said that it was the intention of the committee to
encourage septic system solutions instead of sewers.
"The community and committee recognizes that the business
district needs to do something," Gilje said. "We all said we want a business
district that can continue. But we want the county and business owners to
use an on-site septic system."
Irons said that he will present an amendment to his amendment at
next week's meeting that will make it clear that "sewers were a last solution
after all others were exhausted." He expects that there will be about eight
more amendments presented at the meeting, and the council is scheduled to
adopt the Subarea Plan on May 15.