Strategy would erode rural character
October 3, 2008 · Updated 2:38 AM
Paul Carkeek's column on "rural character" misconstrues what character really means. When people think of "rural," the image isn't of businesses, rather, they picture a pastoral "working" landscape, farm fields, livestock and rural homesites. Surely the farm owners and some other rural homesites host businesses, namely those making a living from their own land. That's a very valid business that should remain.
Unfortunately, what Mr. Carkeek endorses, and what King County's Rural Economic Strategy proposes, is to create new loopholes for increased commercial/retail business uses across the rural landscape; businesses that have nothing to do with rural land uses. If anything will destroy rural character quickest, it's the commercialization of rural lands. Wineries, breweries, auto repair shops, or other commercial businesses that don't grow any crops or use any materials from King County don't belong in the rural area; they are simply commercial/retail operations.
Yet, current proposals would open the rural area to increased, more intensive commercial uses, while eliminating or reducing requirements for setbacks from neighboring properties, screening/landscaping, nuisance provisions and other existing protections.
Of course, developers and business owners would love to locate in the rural area, where land is more available and cheaper. Yet, if allowed, such commercialization would quickly undermine and degrade the very character that makes the rural area so attractive and livable. Rural Economic Strategy is a nice name for caving into development interests that wish to commercialize the rural area for private gain.