Northwest NEWS

August 9, 1999

Front Page

Sims visits proposed quarry site

Ron Sims

King County Executive Ron Sims listens as Kurt Beardslee, Director of Washington Trout, discusses the status of Cherry Creek, a salmonid-bearing stream.
Staff photo by Lisa Allen.

by Lisa Allen, Valley View editor

   DUVALL--King County Executive Ron Sims offered help last week, but made no promises to a group of Cherry Valley residents hoping to stop the development of a rock quarry planned for north of Duvall.

   Sims and Greg Kipp, Director of the Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES), toured the site of the proposed quarry last Thursday with members of the newly-formed group Friends of Cherry Valley.

   Friends of Cherry Valley, now 230 strong, was formed in April after a resident was told by DDES staff that the owners of the adjacent property were applying for a mining permit.

   The property is 92 acres on the cliff that overlooks Cherry Valley. It has been owned by Ed Hayes of Edmonds since 1963. Plans for the quarry are being engineered by Hayes' family company, Seattle General Corporation (SGC), and several other investors. The investors, calling themselves Duvall Rock, propose to mine about 80 acres over the next 60 years.

   The proposal by Duvall Rock includes working the quarry from the inside out, then reclaiming it, adding 2,200 feet of additional fish habitat, and turning the bottom lands into ballfields. But the residents told Sims that they are concerned the quarry would adversely impact the entire area, including the city of Duvall, with noise, pollution, and increased traffic. They also worry, they say, about the impacts the quarry would have on their aquifers and Cherry Creek.

   "Cherry Creek has a robust salmon run," said Clarise Mahler, president of Friends of Cherry Valley. "We, who live here, love nature and are concerned about the fish, birds, and animals that use this corridor to move from one area to another. Most of us bought land out here so we could have our own wells and we think that the mine could have an effect on the aquifer. And trucks will be coming out on SR-203 where there is poor sight distance."

   Joan Ramsey, president of the Duvall Chamber of Commerce, told Sims that the Chamber has taken a stand against the quarry.

   "We oppose the quarry because, besides the environmental impact, the number of truck trips will make a huge impact on this small business community," she told Sims. "It's not in keeping with the Duvall Comp Plan ... we already have so many trucks going through town now that just trying to cross the street is very difficult."

   Mahler reminded Sims of his "commitment to salmon, smart growth, and the preservation of rural residential areas," and asked if there was any way he could help. "Our whole way of life will be altered to the worse if this applicant is allowed to mine," she said.

   Sims told Mahler he would get together with his staff to "look at things we can do," but appeared reluctant to make any further commitments, and did not respond when Mahler pointed out that the property was rezoned to a mineral resource site without nearby residents being informed.

   Jim Eldridge, president of Novelty Neighbors, a group continuing to fight the proposed Alberg gravel pit south of Duvall, explained in a later interview that zoning on the Duvall Rock property was changed as part of the 1994 King County Comp Plan amendments, passed in January of 1995.

   "The property was zoned potential mineral resource site prior to 1994," Eldridge said. "But in 1995, during the Comp Plan amendments, Hayes nominated the site for a zoning change to mineral resource site."

   Eldridge said mineral resource sites are properties that are supposed to have a history of previous mining activity. "They (the owners) were basically given a free zoning change without opportunity for public comment," he said. "The property has never been touched."

   Eldridge said the law requires that landowners within 500 feet of a zoning change be notified. "It looks like nobody reminded the staff that that had to be done," he said. "This fall, we hope to bring that to the attention of the County Council and let them know these things cannot be tolerated in the future."