Northwest NEWS

January 11, 1999

Front Page

Fall City at a crossroads

Fall City

Bordered by the Snoqualmie River and framed by scenic vistas, Fall City is cherished by its residents.
Staff photo by Lisa Allen.

by Lisa Allen, Valley View editor

   FALL CITY--A citizens' group is requesting that the King County Council change the urban reserve zoning of 400 acres surrounding Fall City, saying the designation could put the entire area at risk of overdevelopment.

   "It's a discrepancy that a rural town and the area surrounding it be designated urban reserve," says Dr. James Jones, an Issaquah dentist who has lived in Fall City for almost three years.

   Jones is a member of the Fall City Citizens Action Committee (CAC) which has been working on creating a subarea plan that would help preserve the town and the surrounding area.

   "We cherish the rural nature of this area," he said. "We are determined to protect the character of the town, and getting rid of the urban reserve designation is an important part of that."

   That issue and other recommendations will be discussed at a public meeting scheduled for this week. Jones explained that the urban reserve zoning began with the 1989 Snoqualmie Valley Plan in which boundaries for Fall City, which is unincorporated, included an "urban growth area" for expansion. Sewers were included as an inevitable part of growth.

   But with the 1990-91 State Growth Management Act (GMA), King County was required to develop a Comprehensive Plan which would funnel population growth into the cities, thereby avoiding rural sprawl. In the 1995 King County Comprehensive Plan, Fall City was designated a "rural town" inside of which urban densities were allowed.

   But this past fall, the County Council, in an attempt to bring the Snoqualmie Valley Plan in line with the Comp Plan, passed an amendment that formally included the urban reserve area which could be developed to urban densities if sewers came in.

   State Representative Kathy Lambert (R-45th District) agreed that the population could increase drastically if the zoning remained urban reserve. "At some point, the county could expand densities there," she said.

   The CAC wants to rezone the urban reserve area into RA-5 (one house per five acres). The committee has listed its goals as: retaining the compact, small size of the town; protect scenic rural view corridors; preserve agricultural and forest areas around town; limit future growth within and around the town; preserve historic settlement patterns and landmarks; retain pasture land and open space within the town; maintain a steady population level in Fall City; and continue the historically low-density residential development pattern in and around Fall City.

   Listed in the recommendations to be presented to the County Council are:

   Jones said he is particularly interested in the possibility of creating a conservation district and an unincorporated area council. "Everyone is excited about having an official voice in working with the county," he said.

   King County Executive Ron Sims and other county representatives will be at this week's meeting to discuss the recommendations.

   Public comment is invited. The meeting is Wednesday, Jan. 13, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Chief Kanim Middle School.