April 19, 1999
DUVALL--The King County Department of Developmental and Environmental Services (DDES) has denied a grading permit for a proposed 160-acre gravel mine south of Duvall, citing zoning as the critical issue.
The property is owned by Seattle resident Tom Alberg, who had submitted plans to DDES for a large-scale mining development for the site. The property, just south and east of NE 124th, is zoned a Potential Mineral Resource Site. Alberg had claimed a non-conforming right to mine sand and gravel on the site, saying he had proof the mine had been active in the recent past.
But in an April 7 letter denying the permit application, DDES Supervisor Randy Sandin said the department, in a review last August, concluded that there was insufficient evidence to verify that commercial mining was being conducted in 1958 or during any period since the early 1930s, other than for possibly a short period during the early 1960s.
"In addition," the letter stated, "it was also determined that even if such a use had existed, the record clearly indicates that it has long since been intentionally abandoned." The letter concluded that mining of this site "is not an allowed use of this property under the current zoning designation."
The decision supported two and a half years of work by the Novelty Neighbors, a community group that came together to oppose the mine proposal after noting a change in the property's zoning from Potential to Legal Non-Conforming status during the 1995 Comp Plan amendments. They appealed to the County Council, which, after hearing months of testimony from residents who claimed they never saw the site being mined, reverted the status of the property to that of a potential mining site.
Last year, Alberg appealed that decision to the Growth Management Board but failed to convince the board to reverse the county's decision. Sandin said in the letter that there have been no receipts, tax records or similar verifiable information provided that would support the contention that mining was occurring in 1958.
"The affidavit of Thomas Alberg contains vague references to selling gravel whenever there was a market," the letter said. "The first documented sales occurred in the early 1960s. The last verifiable sales appear to have occurred in the early 1970s, but the sales in all cases cannot by directly tied to the property at issue."