FEBRUARY 3, 1997

 The Edwards Agency

Opinion

Clarifying Herbfarm plans

Herbfarm plans For several years, The Herbfarm has been meeting with King County to find solutions to various zoning issues. My mother began The Herbfarm as a small, herbal nursery 24 years ago. Eight years ago, a county "specialized instruction schools" zoning amendment allowed The Herbfarm school, store, and nursery to exist within this zoning.
   However, if the exact terms of the specialty instruction school were applied to The Herbfarm today, the business as you know it would not be approved and would have to close or relocate to another jurisdiction.
   Last week, the King County Council revisited the new amendment which had languished through the election and holidays and worked together with the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services to finalize a new category for King County R zones in Rural Towns (Fall City, Vashon, and Snoqualmie Pass). This amendment is open for public comment and is scheduled to be considered by the full council on Monday, Feb. 3 [after press time]. Passage of the amendment would allow us to rebuild in a manner which should sustain the farm as a viable entity. Should the ordinance fail or be tabled, it might mean that we would have to begin to make plans to move or dissolve.
   The amendment to what is permitted in this zone is needed to allow The Herbfarm restaurant to rebuild as a restaurant. We would like to add three or four tables to allow seating of 42 to 46 people, still a small restaurant by any standard. We also need a couple of indoor classrooms to better accommodate those visiting the farm, especially in the winter.
   The present zoning already permits bed and breakfast rooms. Though we have not yet begun to work with an architect, we would like to at least consider the possibility of incorporating two to four overnight rooms into the rebuilt restaurant. Although we have always dreamed of a small country inn, this is not currently in the plans, and in any case is not part of this ordinance.
   The amendment as drafted by DDES limits the size of any one building to 7,500 square feet and the total of all buildings to 20,000 square feet per site. While this may seem like a lot, to put it in perspective, the current zoning would already allow us to build approximately 25 homes on what is now The Herbfarm. If they were 2,000 to 3,000 square feet each, they would amount to well over three times the footage allowed under the proposed amendment. Our current rebuilding plans would in no way approach the allowed limits of square footage.
   The Herbfarm is regional and community. It is treated as a park by many people who come here to enjoy the animals and gardens and to picnic on the grounds. We are committed to the values of the Pacific Northwest, and are perhaps the only restaurant in the state which serves only the foods and wines of the area. Our school features many Northwest chefs and teachers each year. We employ many Valley residents and bring outside tourist business to the area. We clean the roads, host the Volksmarch, and donate to the library, Fall City Days, and other community events. We are committed to our rural roots and want to remain in Fall City as an example of the finest herb farm in America.

Ron Zimmerman, Lola Zimmerman, Carrie Van Dyk, and the entire Herbfarm staff, Fall City