Northwest NEWS

May 8, 2000

Editorial

Amendments will have a worse effect on landowners and rural character

   New clearing and grading and forest-cover-restoration requirements in King County's proposed 2000 comprehensive plan amendments will have a worse effect on landowners and traditional rural character than will the widely-publicized downzoning proposals.

   Even if DDES permit staff agreed that a specific site could be cleared for pasture or horticultural pursuits, the cost of proposed permanent storm water control facilities and proposed soil amendments would be affordable only to the very rich. Instead of scattered farms among the trees, it will be trees, trees, trees. An April 27th county chart showed forestry covering 60% of King County, with the rural areas covering only 13.7%, excluding Vashon Island. Agriculture covers only 3% of the county.

   Small farmers with their produce and flowers contribute a lot to the popular local farmers' markets. Hobby farming is a healthful, stay-at-home activity for landowners, and livestock-raising is more beneficial to children than hanging out at the malls. So why does King County want to prohibit new ag uses in the rural area?

   Why will rural ag effectively be limited to what's already there? Why are landowners being denied their traditional right to use their land for farming?

   By the way, the "waste material such as ... biosolids ..." that the county wants us to spread on our land as a condition of obtaining a clearing permit is very controversial and deserves in-depth discussion before adoption into comp plan policy.

   There are other unpublicized significant land use controls scattered throughout the various comp plan amendment documents that landowners will become aware of in future years, one by one, as they stand at the permit counter anticipating an approval they are not going to get, or one which will be unaffordably conditioned.

Maxine Keesling, Woodinville