Last Monday, by way of a 9-0 vote, the Metropolitan King County Council passed an update to its Comprehensive Plan, and it did not include adjusting the UGB as some had hoped.
It did, however, include an amendment co-proposed by Councilmember Kathy Lambert and Councilmember Larry Phillips stating that King County Executive Dow Constantine shall work collaboratively with the City of Woodinville to develop joint recommendations for promoting the wine and agriculture industries.
It reads as follows: “In developing these recommendations, the County shall work with the City to analyze and consider the following:
• Identification of existing and needed transportation infrastructure, including traffic safety improvements, roads, sidewalks, parking, trails, tourism buses, signage and way finding;
• The finite nature and value of agricultural soil resources and the agricultural potential of the Agricultural Production District (APD);
• The character of the surrounding rural area — vacant, buildable, and redevelopable land within the existing urban growth area;
• The adopted Countywide Planning Policies and King County Comprehensive Plan;
• Input from the public and interested stakeholders, including local businesses and surrounding city and unincorporated communities;
• Failing septic systems and pollution in the valley, and non-conforming uses on the unincorporated lands in King County and on the agricultural lands.”
Despite the Woodinville City Council’s majority request by way of Resolution 414 that the county expand the UGB in the Woodinville area to include several properties for possible annexation, Lambert said Wednesday more people were actually opposed to the idea.
Lambert, whose sphere of influence includes Woodinville, spoke candidly about the process, which took almost a year.
“There were a lot of things said that weren’t accurate,” she said. “One of them was save our farms. My mailbox is in Woodinville so I drive there every day. The thing is that nobody wanted to get rid of that APD (Agriculture Production District).
“That APD is something that we all value throughout the entire county. Part of what we’re trying to do is make Woodinville the wine center, because that’s what the city seems to want to be, with economic development around that and have that as a theme.
“So if that’s your theme, the background to your theme is to have places where you have things growing.”
She said she found it somewhat frustrating and bothersome that some people thought her intention was to redevelop existing farm land.
“If anybody knows anything about me, they know I’m out there preserving the APD for the rest of the county. Why wouldn’t I preserve this one? I mean, there’s very little APD in the county.”
She said Executive Constantine was excited about working with Woodinville to promote its wine and agriculture industries.
“For quite some time the county and the city had been saying different things. The county and the city had not had a close relationship under (former Executive) Ron Sims, for a variety of reasons. But Ron’s not here anymore, and so I’ve worked hard to try and get the county and city working better together under Dow.”
In terms of economic development, Lambert acknowledged the city’s need for an affordable hotel.
“Even the one hotel that exists (Willows Lodge) believes there needs to be another hotel. A lot of people believe there needs to be a lower-priced option. And if so, where should it go?
“One of the options is to put it right along where the wineries are so that people can walk — walk from a concert or a winery tour and go back to the hotel. My feeling is I don’t want people drinking and driving. So if they can walk to a hotel that’s reasonably priced we won’t have people getting into car accidents. That’s a safety concern.”
She said the county had looked at a recent hotel proposal.
“The one we saw had a lot of open space around it, enhancements of the trail, and a lot of tree cover so it wouldn’t stand out.”
She added that the channels of communication between county and city are now more open than ever and not just about a hotel.
“So what we’re going to do is get together, city and county, and start talking about where this should be and where that should be and is this what we really want? Are the roads adequate for this? Are there turn lanes? What do we need to think about? What are the mitigations? And really talk in an open way so people don’t say nobody talked about it and this just showed up in my neighborhood.”