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Help save our Valley’s farmland from irreparable damage

On Oct. 7 the King County Council will vote on the Adult Beverage Ordinance.

If passed it will open the Sammamish Valley Rural Area (RA), neighborhoods, and important farmland buffer areas to permanent commercial development and irrevocably damage our farms.

We must act now to save our Valley!

The Sammamish Valley farmland, open spaces, and rural neighborhoods exist due to numerous legislative efforts dating back six decades, including the Farmland Protection Program and the Growth Management Act (GMA).

The GMA set aside specific areas for farmland, watersheds, and rural neighborhoods to be protected from commercial development. The Urban Growth Areas (cities) were designed for commercial development.

Over the last decade, the Woodinville adult beverage tourism industry has grown dramatically, to approximately 130 businesses today. The vast majority are operating legally.

Unfortunately, a handful decided to locate their adult beverage commercial retail outlets in the RA, where they are not allowed. The Ordinance not only rewards these violators but opens further RA land to development.

Numerous negative side effects are already present. Land speculation puts farmland purchase and lease prices out of reach for farmers who supply our region with fresh produce and plants. Allowing commercial development in the RA, as the Ordinance would do, only spurs further speculation.

Environmental degradation from upslope toxic runoff already threatens farms. Public health and safety issues exist because the violators operate in the RA where commercial infrastructure – such as sewer hookup, parking lots, left-turn lanes, sidewalks, and lighting – does not exist. Nor will it. All of these negative impacts will only increase with the passage of the Ordinance.

Ironically, there is plenty of space inside the Urban Growth Area for additional beverage retail outlets, rendering the need for damaging expansion into the RA completely unnecessary. In fact, beverage tourism relies on our verdant open spaces and will be harmed by commercial development of the Valley.

The Ordinance skirts well established GMA processes that allow citizens to plan for responsible development and undermines the years of work and taxpayer dollars spent to save our prime farmland.

It rewards a handful of violators and speculators at the expense of law-abiding beverage businesses as well as all the people who live, work and play in the Valley and rely on the Valley’s farm goods.

It will cause irreparable damage to the Valley’s farmland, watershed, and wildlife at a time when climate change is driving the need for better stewardship of our natural environment.

You can learn more and make your voice heard by the King County Council at GoFoSV.org.

Serena Glover
Executive Director
Friends of Sammamish Valley

 

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