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Comp. plan update meeting draws large crowd
CARNATION - According to King County Executive Ron Sims
and the county's staff, the ongoing goal of the comprehensive plan is to
target urban communities while slowing growth in rural areas and
preserving rural legacy and character. Periodic adjustments _ as mandated by
state law _ are helping to maintain this trend, while allowing for public
comment on the process.
Monday night, Nov. 8, Sims and members of the Department of
Development and Environmental Services (DDES) met with a large crowd at
Tolt Middle School to discuss the current adjustment, known as the 2000
The county maintains that growth management is working, noting
that from 1994 to 1997, 91 percent of all new household growth
countywide occurred within the designated Urban Growth Areas (UGA). According
to statistics provided by the county in its draft update, growth in rural
King County actually declined from 15 percent of overall development in the
late 1980s to just 9 percent in 1997.
However, the majority of the speakers in the crowd of over
60 sounded like they weren't convinced, stating they see continuing
urban sprawl and an ongoing threat to the county's rural way of life.
Sims and the staff members heard a full gamut of concerns about
development, some limited to specific comments about the proposed update
and others from people just expressing their concerns, frustrations and
Beth Stroh-Stern, a member of the Tolt Community Club, which
formed in 1990 as a stewardship organization, read a lengthy introduction to a
letter addressing the update process.
"We feel a responsibility not to allow forests and farms to be
paved over because the cities agreed to absorb growth in order to have
permanent rural lands," she said.
"Unfortunately, King County has not been able to accomplish this. We see whole
cities incorporating in the rural area _ sometimes with the stated purpose
to slow down growth that King County has allowed!"
"We hear a lot about preserving rural legacy," echoed John
Cameron of the Friends of Cherry Valley, "Yet we find so many things going on,
we find it alarming."
Some speakers expressed appreciation to Sims and supported the
update process, while others called for more stringent wording and
restrictions. One speaker called for restrictions on sewer construction,
quipping, "Build them, and they (developers) will come."
Other comments covered a wide range of frustration and concerns
over the destruction of wetlands, skyrocketing costs of living or buying a
home in the Valley, the impact of gravel mining on aquifers, traffic and other
"Many people who live in this Valley are being squeezed out of the
Valley because they can't afford to live here anymore," said another
speaker. "Their property values are soaring."
Another attendee raised the specter of the oft-rumored I-605,
which could take the form of an extension of S.R. 18/Snoqualmie Parkway north
to U.S. 2 in Snohomish County.
"If that happens, you can expect it will divide King County into
two parts," he announced, "and
everything west of that freeway will be developed." Sims nodded in
agreement, stating he didn't feel such a freeway was likely to occur but anything
After the meeting concluded, Sims reiterated his desire for public
comment on the county's plans and operations.
"It was great meeting, and it really helps us when people come
out and tell us what needs to be changed," he commented. "By and large, when
I come out to the Valley, people are very polite, even when there are
Still, for residents of the Valley _ and particularly Snoqualmie _ the
ultimate question may come down to what "minor boundary
adjustments" to the Urban Growth Boundaries (UGB) will appear in the final draft
of the update document. Sims announced at the end of the meeting that he
would not allow or support a modification to Snoqualmie's UGB to enable
development of Snoqualmie Ridge Phase II.
According to Karen Wolf, Senior Policy analyst with the Office of
Regional Policy and Planning (ORPP), the boundary adjustments won't
be finalized until the end of the year, but she did say none of them were
"They're things like Jacobs Creek Park in Maple Valley, and a
similar situation in the city of Enumclaw,"
she commented Monday. "There might be some zoning changes that might
take place at the end of the year."
The King County Executive and DDES will accept public response
to the Comprehensive Plan update document through January 21, 2000.
Sims is scheduled to deliver the completed update to the King County Council
Editor's Note: The King County ORPP developed the Public
Review Draft 2000 Update, and not _ as reported last week - the Department
of Development and Environmental Services. The DDES provides
evaluation and technical support to the ORPP.
The county spokesman who advised that Urban Growth
Boundaries were subject to "minor boundary adjustments" was misidentified as
Betty Renkor. The person who made the comment and gave the initial
presentation on the update plan was Karen Wolf of ORPP.
The Valley Record regrets the errors.