FEBRUARY 24, 1997

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Opinion

Woodinville requirements too onerous; county hypocritical

development hypocrisy "Illinois courts tell regulatory agencies and legislative bodies to stop 'taking' private property without compensating owners." Reading the above recently reminded me of my experience in selling my property in the southwest quadrant of the Hollywood intersection.
   Despite the recent re-do of that intersection by the state, a prospective buyer was told by city staff that there would be so much reservation from the land area for future road widening, fire protection, walkways, landscaping, parking, etc., etc. that the potential buyer's allowed new building would be not much larger than the combined size of the two relatively small buildings already on site.
   The buyer was a local businessman who wanted to build his own offices on the second floor of a new building and rent out the lower floor. The traffic impacts of his office and those of his tenants would have been less than those of the former tenants, a furniture store and gift shop, and a real estate office. After subtracting essentially "confiscated" land from the total area and figuring what he could afford to pay for the remaining usable land, he came up with a figure of about half the assessed valuation and less than half of what the property later sold for to a doctor who could use the existing buildings, thereby not necessitating the extractions.
   I understand those extractive policies are what is holding up the development of the Gilman-Village-type development on the northwest quadrant of the Hollywood intersection. There appears to be a question of whether the landowner can meet all of Woodinville's requirements and still afford to build the development. It's too bad, because the property is an eyesore with all those relocated houses from downtown Woodinville just sitting there.
   [At the county], there was more than a little hypocrisy operating at a recent King County Council committee meeting.
   The issue was the use of 8.86 acres of Agriculture Production District farmlands, for which the county has purchased the development rights. The land is needed by the State Department of Transportation for widening Duvall-Carnation Rd.
   The 16-page staff report contained nary a word about the loudly-trumpeted-concerning-Woodinville's-downtown-fire-station requirement that Ag Production District land removed for any reason must be replaced. Our Councilmember Louise Miller has been most emphatic about that.
   Councilmember Miller insisted on immediate passage of the proposal, and stated that the loss of "a few acres" would make no difference to the farm's operation.
   It's funny how important replacement is next to downtown Woodinville and how unimportant in the pastoral Snoqualmie Valley.

Maxine Keesling, Woodinville