Northwest NEWS

May 8, 2000

Front Page

Fall City Subarea Plan amendments under fire

Proposed changes will be topic of public hearing May 15

by Lisa Allen, Valley View editor

   FALL CITY--King County Councilmember David Irons says he doesn't want Fall City to become another Carnation, with businesses having to pull out due to failing septic sytems.

   "Fall City has a narrow business district," he said. "It is part of the town's rural character. But we need to look at the possible failure of some of the town's septic systems. We don't want overflow going into the river, and we need to address this before there is environmental damage."

   That is the reason, he says, that he has included the sewer issue among several amendments he has proposed to the Fall City Subarea Plan.

   The original plan, drawn up by the citizens advisory committee (CAC), was expected to be approved last December, but the proposed amendments have sent the plan into overtime. A public hearing on the amendments is scheduled for May 15, 1:30 p.m. in the King County Council Chambers. Testimony signup begins at 1 p.m.

   The plan had its beginnings two years ago when residents, concerned that Fall City was surrounded by 400 acres of urban reserve zoning, got together to develop a program that would protect the rural nature of the area. CAC members say they are very concerned that sewers, if installed, could bring in big business.

   But Irons insists the amendment, which allows public sewers or "other alternative wastewater treatment systems to serve the Fall City business district," won't result in chain stores or McDonald's setting up shop in Fall City.

   "This will keep our local businesses," he said. "Septic systems in the business district were not addressed in the original plan. All other options will be exhausted before sewers are considered. This is not the right location for sewers. A sewage treatment plant is the worst option." Irons suggested he may hold further public meetings to discuss the amendments.

   But CAC member Sue Holbink said that members of the group feel that the recommendations they sent to the King County Executive shouldn't be altered.

   "A lot of effort was put into this plan ... For two years, we deliberated over minor details and we came up with something adequate, with the tools we had, trying to work with some onerous regulations," she said. "There is no documentation that septic systems are failing. We would like to have a spreadsheet that shows the costs of fixing drainfields, and what it would cost to install a sewage treatment plant. Nobody is doing research on all the different options."

   Holbink said the citizens advisory committee would like to see the plan "put back to what the citizens wanted. We don't need any more public meetings. He (Irons) should have come out to talk about the amendments before presenting them to the council."

   Holbink also criticized a further amendment altering the size of the business district. "Some business owners launched a campaign to garner support to enlarge the business district," she said. "But the proposed district crosses the alley and people are concerned about where it would stop. We can't get a reproduction of old Seattle out here, with mom and pop stores. These days, everything is all chain stores."

   Irons said he is still working with the citizens committee, county staff and "other interested parties" on the amendments, which also address zoning changes, town boundaries, rural character and the historic district.

   "My amendments are not sacred," he said. "We want the best possible subarea plan where properties are treated fairly. We need to show the system has integrity, which addresses issues by land and not by the property owner."