May 18, 1998

Opinion

Let the county know you don't understand

  The notice mailed by King County to rural landowners about the "voluntary incentive program" for transfer of development rights (TDR) lies when it says people with RA-2.5 zoning can currently develop at only one house per five acres.
  
   In 1996 the county council changed Comprehensive Plan (complan) Policy R-207 to allow RA-2.5 owners surrounded on at least three sides by existing lots less than five acres to divide at the 2.5-acre density. But that dispensation is now proposed for elimination because "An alternate means for realizing higher densities in the RA2.5 zone would severely hamper the incentive for using TDR." (p. 3-2 in the 4-8-98 PUBLIC REVIEW DRAFT, 1998 AMENDMENTS TO THE 1994 KING COUNTY COMPREHENSIVE PLAN) Thus, with the coming elimination of the "3 sides" loophole, the only RA2.5 owners able to utilize their 2.5-acre density instead of five acres/home will be those in the TDR program who buy development rights from other landowners.
  
   So, landowners meeting the 3-sides' criteria should make immediate application to divide their land under current rules, thereby beating the upcoming rules adoption that will require buying development rights. (This farms/forests/open space preservation program via TDRs is in marked contrast to previous farmlands' preservation where the benefitting public paid for the development rights, not individuals trying to develop according to their zoning.)
  
   Those selling their development rights should study the TDR proposed ordinance copied in the back of the 1998 complan amendments booklet to see exactly what can be done with land after selling development rights. Verify with King County what you don't understand.
   Maxine Keesling, Woodinville