Northwest NEWS

May 7, 2001

Front Page

Land eyed for park, soccer fields must remain agricultural

by Jeanette Knutson
   Staff Writer
   King County Superior Court Judge Glenna Hall ruled last week that two properties situated within city of Redmond boundaries must be maintained for agricultural purposes instead of being converted into a park and soccer fields.
   In December of 1999, the city of Redmond rezoned these properties from "agricultural" to "urban recreational."
   The parcels in question lie in the fertile Sammamish Valley near Northeast 124th Street and Willows Road. One block of land, 37 acres of the 112-acre Muller Farm property, is owned by the Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association. It was bought six years ago in hopes that its land-use designation would be changed to accommodate soccer fields.
   The other block of land adjacent to the soccer association's property 32 acres known as the Benaroya Farm, is owned by the city of Redmond. The city intended to develop a park on this acreage.
   Farm preservationists challenged the '99 rezone, taking the issue to the growth-management hearings board ... and winning.
   The city of Redmond, dissatisfied with the hearings board decision, took their case to court.
   Now even though the soccer association owns its 32-acre parcel of land within city limits along with the adjoining 75 acres of farmland just outside Redmond boundaries (the Muller Farm in toto) King County, through its taxpayers, bought the development rights for much of the Sammamish River Valley property, including the Muller Farm.
   This transferral of development rights changed the land's deed to prohibit nonagricultural uses.
   And what Judge Hall's decision did was confirm that the state Growth Management Act protects designated agriculture areas from land-use changes.
   Farm advocates and antisprawl groups are happy. Soccer afficionados are not.
   The 6,400-member soccer association says it needs more room to play and practice.
   Apparently Sixty Acres Park, a county-owned soccer complex on which the association plays, gets overused with 600 hours of scheduled play time per year.
   Neither the city of Redmond nor the Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association has decided if it will appeal last week's decision.