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February 2, 1998

Local News

Soccer fields challenged


Map by Earl Mewharter/Graphics Division

A King County Comprehensive Plan amendment allowing active recreation on the Kaplan property was challenged recently.

     by Andrew Walgamott
   WOODINVILLE--An Auburn-based preservationist group is challenging a plan to develop soccer fields in the Sammamish River valley near Woodinville. In a motion filed January 23 with the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board, the Upper Green Valley Preservation Society contend that King County violated its Comprehensive Plan and zoning codes with an amendment that allows ball fields on the 17.79 acre county-owned Kaplan property. The land is just south of N.E. 171st St. in the Sammamish Valley Agricultural Production District (APD).
   Patricia Paterson, UGVPS president, says that active recreation is an urban use and should be provided by the City of Woodinville and King County rather than set in the APD. "This is the [UGVPS] saying to King County, you didn't do this right," Paterson says. The head of the 150 to 500 member society said the amendment also affects APDs near Enumclaw and Kent. With what she said was millions of county dollars going towards recreational needs in the past few years, Paterson said it was time to re-focus on preserving farmlands. "It is just so important that we be able to grow our own fresh food in this area," she said, adding that agricultural lands provide secondary benefits like open space and wildlife habitat.
   She says the challenge shouldn't be seen as a preservationists against soccer moms battle. "We understand the need for recreational land. All we're saying is please don't use the last agricultural land for that purpose," Paterson said. The move effectively puts a hold on the Northshore Youth Soccer Association's plans to develop eight soccer fields there for at least the next half year.
   Dave Shipway, president of the 6,300 member NYSA, was reported as saying the group would wait for a ruling before going ahead with its plans. He had been hopeful that building would begin next spring, it was reported. The county and NYSA teamed up to buy the land last July for $960,000. At the time, soccer fields weren't allowed on the land, and required an amendment by the County Council to its comp plan which swapped land use designations between the agriculturally-zoned Kaplan property and the recreationally-zoned Hmong farm near N.E. 145th St.
   In November, the council approved the amendment which says the land can't be harmed so much that it can't return to agricultural use. The growth board is expected to set an April hearing date on the matter by February 3, Chris Towne, board member, said. A decision that the county or preservationists are right is expected within the next 170 days. But Towne said either side could appeal the decision to King County Superior Court.