County's planned restrictions anger rural property owners

By Keith Ervin
Seattle Times staff reporter

April 23, 2004

King County, WA - Rural property owners sent a forceful message to Metropolitan King County Council members last night: Don't enact tough new restrictions on how they can use their land.

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 residents dominated the special committee meeting at Carnation Elementary School even before it was their turn to testify about the regulations proposed by County Executive Ron Sims.

After a County Council staffer explained that property owners would be allowed to cut no more than 35 percent of the native vegetation on their land, one angry man put him on the spot.

"Tell everybody what they could do with the 65 percent of the ground Sims is talking about taking away from us," said Snoqualmie Valley resident Robert Larsen. "Can we mow it? Can we put cows and horses on it?"

"That's one of the things that has to be worked out," council staffer Rick Bautista replied, drawing jeers and grumbles from the crowd.

More public meetings

The Metropolitan King County Council's growth management and unincorporated areas committee will hold two more public meetings about proposed changes to the county comprehensive plan and critical-areas ordinance.
The meetings, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., will be held:

Monday in the Shadow Lake Elementary School commons, 22620 Sweeney Rd. S.E., Maple Valley.

Thursday, April 29, in the Woodinville High School gym, 19819 136th Ave. N.E., Woodinville.

Last night's meeting was the third of five being held around the county this month by the County Council's growth management and unincorporated areas committee.

The committee is reviewing Sims' proposed revisions to the comprehensive plan and ordinances on critical areas, storm water, and clearing and grading.

The Sims administration contends tougher regulations are needed to protect streams, wetlands and threatened species such as chinook salmon and bull trout.

The new regulations would limit the amount of land that could be cleared, limit the size of buildings and driveways and increase buffers around wetlands to as much as 300 feet and buffers on each side of a stream to as much as 165 feet. The maximum buffer required today around wetlands and streams in most areas is 100 feet.

Several landowners said those changes would jeopardize their plans for retirement or to pay for their children's college educations.

"Hey, if you want to control somebody else's property, buy it," said Carnation resident W. Pat Young.

Others contrasted the proposed restrictions with the high-density development the county has allowed at the Redmond Ridge and with the more permissive stream buffers proposed for other urban unincorporated areas.

"We're not committing crimes by living on our property," said Redmond-area resident Robert Scribner. "Most of us are very good stewards of our property. I do not want to destroy mine."

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or



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