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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
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.