Northwest NEWS

July 2, 2001

Events

Tussle over soccer turf continues

by Jeanette Kntson
   Staff Writer
   The city of Redmond will appeal Judge Glenna Hall's May 2 King County Superior Court ruling that stated two properties located within city of Redmond boundaries must be maintained for agricultural purposes instead of being converted into a park and soccer fields.
   City Attorney James Haney has already filed appeal papers with the state Court of Appeals, though the official Redmond City Council vote to appeal the May 2 ruling will take place at the regular July 17 council meeting.
   Said Attorney Haney, "This is not a soccer issue from the city's perspective. Obviously, it's an important part of people's debate whether or not the land can be used for soccer purposes. [But] the city got caught up in the soccer [controversy] perhaps when it authorized the soccer association to use its land on a temporary basis.
   "The basic issue has been that the city purchased the land for a park, it needed it and it planned for it. Now the city wishes to use [the land] for that, to use public property for that public purpose."
   When the city of Redmond purchased the 32-acre Benaroya property, the land in question, it had an interim zoning designation of "urban recreation."
   The Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association also purchased a block of land, the Muller Farm, 37 acres of which fell within city of Redmond boundaries. This land had an agricultural designation at the time the association purchased it, but the group was hopeful its land-use designation could be changed to accommodate soccer fields.
   When the city took action to make its own property designation permanent and at the same time to rezone the soccer association's property likewise as urban recreation farm preservationists challenged the city's rezone of the two properties.
   A regional growth management hearings board sided with the farm preservationists.
   The city then appealed that decision to the Superior Court and lost. Judge Hall's May 2 decision confirmed that the state Growth Management Act protects designated agriculture areas from land-use changes.
   Now the city of Redmond wants to take the case a step further, to the state Court of Appeals.
   Redmond Mayor Rosemarie Ives acknowledges the City Council's intent to go forward with the appeal. For the majority of the council, it is an issue concerning a local jurisdiction's ability to make a decision about its own property, she said. However she does not share their enthusiasm for the appeal.
   The Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association, whose membership has doubled in the past 10 years, says it needs more room to play and practice. The county-owned Sixty Acres Park soccer complex on which the association plays gets chewed up due to 600 hours of scheduled play time per year.
   Antisprawl group 1000 Friends of Washington notes "High quality agricultural land is rare ... Redmond used to have hundreds of acres zoned [for] agriculture in the 1990s, but now is down to its last 72 acres. We need to protect the little agricultural land that remains."
   City Attorney Haney concedes the only way the farmland/soccer fields tug of war will be resolved is through an overuling of Judge Hall's decision or a withdrawal, an acquiescence, on the city's part.
   "It's likely this issue has to run its course," he said.