April 26, 1999
WOODINVILLE--A ruling by King County Superior Court Judge Sharon Armstrong will allow King County to use the former Kaplan property for soccer fields.
The Kaplan property lies in the Agricultural Production District (APD) bordering NE 171st St. In a move seeking to both preserve agricultural land and use land already designated for recreation in the Sammanish Valley, King County filed an appeal in Superior Court to overturn a ruling by the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board.
In a March 1996 ruling on Benaroya v. Redmond, the Board interpreted the GMA as prohibiting local governments from designating as agricultural land individual parcels of property not recently farmed. The County's appeal of that interpretation cites the State Supreme Court's disagreement with the Board's decision, that land need not currently be used for farming to support agricultural designation under the GMA.
"When we bought the 18-acre Hmong farm property with Forward Thrust money, it was with the stipulation that it would be used for recreation fields," said King County Council Chair Louise Miller. "Since then it has been used by the Hmong family for farming, their only means of support. King County's Comprehensive Plan RL-308 allows us to transfer the recreation use to a property of equal size within the APD. We bought 78 acres with Forward Thrust/IAC funds which we can use for recreation in the Sammamish Valley. That's out of 850 total acres the County has preserved for APD in the valley. This transfer accomplishes two things of benefit to the public: it allows a farm to continue APD use; and it places more recreation land on the edge of Woodinville's business and residential area, providing a buffer zone between the urban area and the farming area."
Miller said the County also hopes to add to that buffer zone on downtown Woodinville's south side by purchasing the Zante, Brown and Murray, Murray, and Moore parcels. That would buy up the entire north end of the APD in the valley.
Miller said the County cannot pave or put gravel or buildings on any part of the Kaplan property, to preserve its potential to revert back to farm land, if necessary.