APRIL 21, 1997

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Comprehensive plan amendments would expand uses in Sammamish Agricultural District

comp. plan amendments by Andrew Walgamott, staff reporter
Among the proposed amendments to King County's 1994 Comprehensive Plan is language that would permit a land swap inside the Sammamish Valley's Agricultural Production District.
   The county is proposing to amend Policy RL-302 "to expand the range of uses allowed in Agricultural Production Districts (APD)," by striking language limiting permanent new construction to residences, farm buildings, and direct marketing farm stands. The effect would be to expand the range of uses in the APD, but the language would still require uses to meet specific criteria, county staff said.
   The new policy RL-304a is proposed for addition to RL-304: "Within APDs, conversion to non-agricultural uses should occur only when it can be demonstrated that the conversion of such lands will not diminish the productive potential of prime agricultural soils or the effectiveness of farming within the local district boundaries," according to county documents.
   Policy RL-308, which begins "Active recreation facilities should not be located within APDs," will have, "except when property is acquired using voter approved recreation funds that pre-date designation of the subject APD," added. The amendment would expand the range of active recreation projects within the APD, but projects would be limited to those predating the APD, according to county documents.
   Lori Grant, comprehensive plan project manager, said that there were various inconsistencies in the 1994 King County Comprehensive Plan (KCCP) that needed to be addressed. She said King County can only propose changes to the KCCP once a year.
   "The amendment will provide consistency between the policies of the KCCP and allowed uses in the King County code ... and also to permit some very limited uses on lands purchased with Recreation funds," Grant said.
   Sharon Claussen, from King County Department of Parks and Recreation, said the purpose of the amendments was to allow a use exchange of two parcels in the Sammamish Valley. Eighteen acres, purchased with parks Forward Thrust funds in the 1960s, and located south of NE 145th Street and bordering the Burke Gilman trail, is currently being tilled by "Mung" farmers. An amendment would free up the "Mung" site for recreation.
   Claussen said because the site is in the middle of the APD, another provision, RL-304a, would convert the recreation use at the "Mung" site to agriculture in exchange for a recreation use on a similarly sized parcel at the northern edge, near Woodinville's South Bypass, of the APD.
   In regards to future development, Claussen said that anything allowed in the APD would be allowed at the "Mung" site and that the county was going to retain ownership of the parcel. "The county is going to continue to own it. Nobody is going to develop it," Claussen said.
   Of the northern site proposed for possible use as a soccer field, no development that would disturb the soil would be allowed, Claussen said. Picnic tables and restrooms would be allowed. Claussen said the point was to move recreation away from the center of the APD to the northern edge.
   Ken Goodwin, president of the Hollywood Hill Association, expressed concern about relaxation of protection in the APD. "They're making it easier to convert ag-land to non-ag uses," Goodwin said.
   Goodwin called the Sammamish Valley one of the county's "jewels" and said the soil is some of the richest in the nation. Though the valley is surrounded by development, he said, "[it's been] preserved through the will of the people."
   Public comment on the proposed changes to the amendments will be considered before changes are forwarded to the King County Council in June. Comments can be addressed to Lori Grant, Comprehensive Plan Project Manager, Office of Budget and Strategic Planning, 420 King County Courthouse, 516 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104.