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Pilot project, or land grab?
The King County Council's comprehensive plan committee held a meeting last week at Snoqualmie Middle School to take input from the public on several proposals. The change proposed for Snoqualmie Valley is for the site planned for a new Snoqualmie Valley Hospital. The change, proposed by King County Executive Ron Sims, says that for every one acre of land added to an Urban Growth Area, four acres must be dedicated to King County as open space.
The meeting was held to talk about this proposal along with several others. Unfortunately, some residents confused the viability of a new hospital with this potential King County land grab.
There are many detractors of planned hospital growth and the hospital district. I agree that more information on financials and the viability of a new hospital needs to be examined. But those arguments need to be taken up with the hospital commissioners. If the commissioners aren't listening, then they need to be replaced at an upcoming election.
Let's take the county's actions for what they are. This is a pilot project to apply the principals of the "Transfer of Development Rights" program.
The hospital district is a non-profit entity that benefits the public good. It shouldn't be subject to the whims of the county executive to preserve open space, so he and his neighbors in Seattle can have a place to have fun on the weekends. The same could be said for a fire department or a school. What if this were the site selected for the new high school? Would you be more inclined to support his thinking, or would you be upset?
The Snoqualmie Valley has done its fair share of assisting to preserve open space. Several speakers brought up projects such as Meadowbrook Farm and the Snoqualmie Falls viewshed. Acres of land have already been set aside for permanent open space. This is a direct attack on property rights and nothing more.
Let's send a clear message that we don't want the county to further hinder our property rights. And for those upset with the hospital district, please recognize that this land grab is not the way to get the hospital district to hear your concerns. The issue is much larger than a new hospital and its financial viability.