Northwest NEWS

August 10, 1998

Local News

Miller pledges to find youths place to play

   by Andrew Walgamott
   Staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--King County won't appeal a state board's decision that agricultural lands can't be converted to soccer fields, but a powerful politician pledges not to give up her battle to provide youth a place to play.
   "We can't leave a thousand or two thousand children without a place to play," said King County Council Chair Louise Miller last week.
   On July 28, the state's Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board blocked Miller's move to allow soccer on 18 acres the county and the Northshore Youth Soccer Association bought for $960,000 just south of the city of Woodinville.
   After King County changed its comprehensive plan to allow active recreation there, and then area "preservation" groups challenged that, the board ruled the county could not adopt land use plans that authorize the usurpation of agricultural uses on land designated as farmland.
   The land in question, known as the Kaplan property, is in the Sammamish Valley Agricultural Production District (APD).
   "I still believe it's legal," said Miller, "but with our attorney saying we had a 30 percent chance of winning [an appeal], I say find another way." She said the county was now evaluating the board's written report.
   Though the board ruled 2-1 against conversion, the dissenting member found that the county's "creative" approach to land use was consistent with state edicts on conserving farmlands, and didn't "permanently, irrevocably or irreversibly commit the County's designated agricultural lands to active recreation."
   But the majority of the board found that recreation could have ousted agriculture at Kaplan for more than 30 years.
   While the need for new soccer fields is clear, Ken Goodwin of the Hollywood Hill Association mused, "If you can convert ag-lands for a non-ag noble purpose, then what's the next noble purpose?"