Sparks fly in city council chambers

  • Written by Don Mann

by Don Mann

Staff Writer

Resolution 414 remains … unresolved.

The item was brought up again at Tuesday’s Woodinville City Council meeting and became a source of conflict, if not an open sore among some council members.

A brief history: On March 6 the resolution, which endorsed expansion of urban growth boundaries in support of King County’s potential annexation of rural Sammamish Valley areas, was passed by council via a 5-2 vote, with Mayor Bernie Talmas and Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders opposed. Talmas noted his opposition by citing “factual inaccuracies” in the document.

At the April 3 meeting, following a procession of public comments opposed to the resolution, Talmas was rebuked by some council members for refusing to sign the document — though his refusal was his legal prerogative and not an official veto and the resolution remained intact.

On April 10, following more public opposition, Councilmember Art Pregler requested the item be revisited by council, claiming it was not properly vetted in the public arena. By head nod the council agreed it would be reconsidered at a later date.

On April 12 King County Council held a town meeting on the topic at the Carol Edwards Center, one of three it would hold regionally. Three county council members listened as 41 members of the public — including six of seven Woodinville council members — voiced opinions on the matter.

In an unofficial tally calculated by the Woodinville Weekly, 20 citizens were opposed to adjusting the UGB, 14 were in favor, and seven were either neutral or unclear.

At that meeting Talmas presented a 20-page report written by Boundy-Sanders and him, reflecting their opinions on why amending the UGB would not be in Woodinville’s best interests.

The report was prefaced by clearly stating it was a minority opinion and did not reflect the majority view of the council.

At last Tuesday’s meeting another citizen spoke in opposition of the resolution, claiming it had not undergone citizen review, was unfounded and “full of purposeful misdirection to affect the King County Council.” He said it had several neighborhood groups up in arms, and warned it would be taken before the Growth Management Hearings Board if not rescinded.

The mayor then introduced a new item to the evening’s docket: Sammamish Valley UGB Proposed Amendments Update, and it linked the 20-page report penned by Boundy-Sanders and him.

Talmas reiterated the resolution never had a public hearing and requested one be set “so we have a more complete view on if these issues are correct.”

Councilmember Paulette Bauman said she was in agreement with holding a public hearing, and asked if staff had reviewed the Boundy-Sanders/Talmas document — which apparently other council members received just prior to the meeting.

When told by staff it had been received only five hours earlier and not been reviewed, Bauman bristled.

Thumbing through the report, she said the following: “Some statements have no documentation of facts … I just want to make sure we have facts and not just opinions spelled out in this document.”

Pregler suggested another document, written by Hollywood Hill Association attorneys and submitted to King County at the April 12 town meeting, also be reviewed by staff.

Bauman said she would not support that, citing Hollywood Hill was not within city limits and staff, therefore, should not be burdened with additional work. If those attorneys wanted to speak at a public hearing, she said, they were welcome to.

Boundy-Sanders then spoke, and wanted to assure the public her document “is very thoroughly backed up. I don’t want the citizens to get the impression that I do — or the mayor does — sloppy work.” She then underscored some of the “misinformation” that was represented to King County at the town meeting and named names.

She continued: “The Hollywood Hill Association has promised to to take this to the GMHB if the council grants this amendment.” If they do, she said, “I cannot emphasize enough how foolish we’re going to look. Our goals of the city are so thoroughly attacked by Resolution 414 and the pursuit of this annexation.”

She appealed to council to rescind, noting it would require three of the original five “yes” votes, including someone other than Talmas and her to make a motion.

Then Councilmember Scott Hageman spoke: “I’m not quite sure where the hubris comes from with respect to some of the opinions (in the Boundy-Sanders/Talmas document). There are members of the council that perhaps have a particular bias and are running off in a direction that is contradictory to their  own … You can’t have it both ways.”

Hageman, appearing incensed, said it was not the proper time for debate, calling it a waste of time.

“It’s another example of things being dumped at the last minute at the dais and then certain members go off … I think they’re out of order. They go off on their own speech and we’ve not even seen this yet,” he said, pointing to the document.

The former mayor fixed his eyes on the current mayor. “And you are party to this,” he exclaimed. “I’m embarrassed for the council. That should not happen. Staff has not seen it and we’ve not seen it. We talked at the retreat about no surprises. Do NOT dump stuff on our dais and expect us to talk about it. I’m done with it.”

Bauman, apparently, was not.

Among her final statements: “Apparently there are two opinions on this dais about how to proceed forward … for the discussion of possible annexation. It’s unfortunate we’re trying to do this on our own.”

She cited a statement from the Boundy-Sanders/Talmas document and asked, rhetorically, for documentation.

She said she found the evening’s agenda “quite peculiar in that … when we debated the downtown plan for two years there were council members who don’t want our ag lands to be developed who were also opposed to any density downtown and we fought tooth-and-nail to get one story (of height) … I find this topic quite ironic and hypocritical.”

Said Talmas, calmly: “That’s the point, to have a public hearing on it and we’ll try to schedule it for June. Thank you.”

Note: Deputy Mayor Liz Aspen and Councilmember Les Rubstello were absent.

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