Vested doesn't overshadow common sense

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This term "vested" is beginning to sound like an old record. Developers are touting that their projects are vested. Great,

so their projects are vested. Let's say 10 years pass and they

finally decide to move forward, or they used the time to meet certain

governmental standards or criteria. Now things have changed, and in the case

of Treemont, zoning has changed, surface water management concerns

have become a bigger concern and the water source from which the new

homes would be served is drastically overused.

So what do we do? Allow a development to be built that would be

illegal by today's standards? I don't think so, and in the Treemont example, I

think a likely scenario is to drastically limit the number of homes, terminate

the water rights agreement with the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer

District, which will be facing legal challenges of its own, and force the

developer to apply for a permit to tap a well on the property. Knowing that

the Department of Ecology and the Health Department are not processing

any well permits at this time signals the same fate for the Treemont project

and any other developments planned in rural areas: being placed on hold.

The water issue alone for Treemont should put the project on hold, but

it also highlights a bigger issue: water. Development has been rampant in

east King County for 10-plus years. Hey, I can understand why, it's a great

place to live. But each development appears to be evaluated on its individual

impacts to water, traffic and the environment, without taking a look at the

bigger picture. And in the case of water, I think the tip of the iceberg has

just been touched with regards to overused water rights. The drastic

drawdown of aquifers on the Eastside is going to dramatically affect development.

What area is at risk? Well, the Upper Valley may be sitting on one of

the state's largest aquifers, and it is likely that this aquifer will be viewed as

a regional resource. Does this mean we should, as a county, re-evaluate

activities over the aquifer that may contaminate its contents?

Tough questions and even tougher solutions lie ahead.

Jim McKiernan

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