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Hearings continue on King County comp plan

FALL CITY _ The King County Comprehensive Plan 2000

went through another round of public hearings recently, including a meeting

on April 17 at Chief Kanim Middle School.

About two dozen residents testified on King County Executive

Ron Sims' proposed plan covering issues such as down zoning, flood

problems and curbing development.

The majority of the community members expressed their concern

over the county's plans to rezone areas in the Snoqualmie Valley from RA-5

and RA-10 (one dwelling unit per five or 10 acres) to RA-10 or RA-20

(one dwelling unit per 10 or 20 acres).

Some residents were so alarmed at the proposal, that they formed

the nonprofit citizens' group called the King County Citizens for

Property Rights (KCCPR) to protect their interests.

"Most members wanted to divide their property to four lots for their

children; this is a recurring theme," said KCCPR Chairman Sara

Broadhurst, before the meeting on Monday. "We bought [our 20-acre lot] for our

children. We're not looking for huge developments, we want our children

to enjoy the rural lifestyle that is important to us."

The Carnation resident said the group banned together after

the county's January public hearing in Carnation and now has a

membership of about 175 people.

Broadhurst said that the county shouldn't force rural landowners

to preserve the lands around the forest production district. Instead, she

said that most people who live away from the urban areas have a connection

with the environment and usually strive to protect it.

"Most people want to keep the area rural. They're conscious of keeping

it in good shape for the wildlife there. That's why they are there," she

said. "You need to trust the property owners."

Or, Broadhurst said, the county should take steps to preserve the

land while not infringing on the property owner's rights.

"On paper it sounds good, `Let's preserve the rural lifestyle,' but

it doesn't show the human side of what people go through to have this

land," she said. "If the county really

wants to have vacant land, they should purchase it."

"[The zoning] shouldn't be forced onto a property owner who

pays taxes," Broadhurst added.

Preston Drew, another member of KCCPR, testified that his

property rights shouldn't be dictated by a county document.

"We're not wealthy; we're small, ordinary folk," he said. "We're

not developers; we're rural landowners."

"It's really affecting a lot of our plans we made for years and years

and it's not fair."

Another concern that a resident voiced was whether they would

be able to rebuild on their property if a fire destroyed their house now that

the county was proposing to down zone the lot from a RA-5 to RA-10. She

had heard that her property would then become a non-conforming lot.

However, Rick Bautista, a legislative analyst for the Growth

Management Unincorporated Areas Committee, said that wouldn't be the case.

"The down zone would affect the creation of new lots. Existing lots

are "grandfathered" in; it's always been that way," he said. "The only

provision is that you can't build on anything less than 5,000 square feet [in the

rural area]."

Bautista explained that Sims chose to rezone much of the outlying

perimeters of the unincorporated areas as RA-20 to protect the wooded

lands from nearby development.

"The executive feels it's needed to protect the rural and forest

production district areas where the intent is that the land will be used for

commercial forestry," he said. "The best way

to protect it is to keep people away."

About four Preston residents testified in favor of Sims' proposal

to preserve the forested areas.

"It should be aggressively approved," said resident

Kevin Fetherston of Preston. "Population demographics will explode and

I'm concerned [the rural areas] will be like a Sammamish Plateau and Issaquah."

Other residents said that the county's Transfer of

Development Credits (TDC) program would alleviate some of the landowners'

worries. Under the plan, landowners can be financially compensated for choosing

to permanently keep their land free of development. According to the

county, the owner would also receive "development credits which can be used

to build additional houses on other parcels in more appropriate areas."

The King County Comprehensive Plan was originally drafted in

1994, and this is the first major revision since that time. The King County

Council will host several more opportunities for public comment this month.

The council is scheduled to vote on the plan in September. For more

information, call (206) 296-1000.

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