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Save Our Farms and Wine Country in King County, WA

Open letter to County Council regarding plans for developing the Sammamish River valley near Woodinville. From the hot air balloons that land here to the wildlife to the absence of noise and

(reposted here from my website)

Dear King County Council:

I live a mile from downtown Woodinville, WA. Before living here, I lived on 3 acres in a semi-rural part of South Carolina. When I first moved to Puget Sound 12 years ago, I was immediately drawn to this spot because of the country feeling it has, yet is so close to everything in the city.  My commute to work has consisted of riding the 1 mile down to the Sammamish River bike trail, then 10 miles on a quiet, scenic ride along the trail to Marymoor Park, then 1 more mile up to my office.  Even in the winter, this is a pleasant ride.

On my ride in the mornings, the air smells clean and fresh.  There are no roads or houses anywhere close to the trail.  I see lots of wildlife: rabbits, beavers and herons are always there.  But the wilderness experience goes far beyond that.  I have seen a coyote catching a rabbit.  I have seen an eagle catch a duck in the middle of one of the farms; I have had an owl fly along beside me as I rode home in the winter night.  This place is surprisingly quiet and devoid of noise pollution.  A great comfort for people and an absolute necessity for creatures like owls which depend on hearing to catch their food.  This corridor is a great sanctuary for people as well as wildlife from the growth and expansion of urban life and an important reason why I choose to live here.

At night, this corridor is one of the few places not flooded with light pollution, yet open enough to see the sky.  I sometimes take my daughter here to see the stars.  Earlier this year we were able to go down to the bike trail near the St. Michelle winery to watch the meteor shower and another time to watch the lunar eclipse.  During the day, this is one of the few places near my home where I can get an unobstructed view of Mt Rainier.  Most evenings throughout the summer, a pair of hot air balloons can be seen drifting down the valley where they will land in a field within the valley.  These balloons are as much the trademark of the City of Woodinville as the Space Needle is of the City of Seattle.  (see the city logo in the top right corner of the City of Woodinville website). These experiences will all be gone permanently, when you open this area up to development.

I support protecting our farms, forests, and rural lands. These lands are important, not only to Woodinville’s wine and tourism industry, but to everyone who lives here or passes through.  Many thousands of cyclists use this corridor daily.  To quote from your own website:


“The Sammamish River Trail (SRT) runs 10.9 miles along the Sammamish River from Bothell to Marymoor Park in Redmond as part of the “Locks to Lakes Corridor.” The SRT is paved its entire length and is one of King County’s most popular regional trails. The trail offers extraordinary views of the river, the broad Sammamish River Valley, Cascade foothills and Mt. Rainier. Bicyclists, joggers, skaters, walkers, and others enjoy the trail as a regional recreation resource. The SRT is also used extensively by commuters as a nonmotorized corridor between suburban cities and Seattle.”

To develop this land will not only diminish the value of the valley itself, but also destroy the very reason many people are drawn to this area to begin with.  Please protect our lands by keeping King County’s designated urban growth area right where it is.


Sincerely,
David Hablewitz

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Susan Milke September 12, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Totally agree! Once it is gone, it is gone forever. The people who don't get this are blind to power and greed. They can't make money off of nature the way it was intended to be. Woodinville is special, let's keep it that way!
Ron Olson September 12, 2012 at 10:58 PM
The UGB will be adjusted for Lucy DeYoung and John Corrado. This is a political issue funded by campaign contributions to King County and Woodinville councilmembers. If there was a real need for Woodinville to annex agricultural land for a hotel, there would have been a public hearing in Woodinville to take public comment. Les Rubstello told Woodinville citizens during his campaign that we shouldn't be nibbling away at the valley for the sake of development. I guess the political contributions got the better of him, because Les has voted repeatedly to destroy the valley in favor of his campaign contributors. It's sickening, but true. Woodinville councilmember Paulette Bauman is no better. After voting on an issue that included benefits for her parents Woodinville property, she voted to prevent the public from getting updates on Les Rubstello's helping hand for HIS pet project. The elections for Woodinville's next council should be interesting. It's time to rid ourselves of the trash and put some people in office that represent the taxpayers.
Michael Ochoa September 17, 2012 at 10:49 PM
I have lived in Woodinville for the past thirty years, or now the past five years, in Bothell. The Sammamish RIver Trail is indeed a beautiful feature of the valley, and its preservation is important if we are to keep the character of Woodinville as it has been. However, private property owners have rights to do what they want with their land, within reason and zoning restrictions. This is America, and like it or not, that is the way this country works. The overall community has no right to take property away from it's rightfully titled owner without compensation, no matter what the benefit to the community, that is called stealing. So I have a suggestion: form a conservancy that buys the trail where needed, and right of way, and preserve it in that manner. This is done extensively back east in Massachusetts (and I am sure other places) to the benefit of the land owners and the greater community. I hope the community would support such an effort, and the land owners would be compensated for their investment as well. Land owners could donate their land, or the development rights of their property, for compensation or trading for other locations development rights or zoning. I do believe in preserving wild spaces, but it must be done in keeping with the rights of private property, as enshrined in our nations founding documents. I know that the King County CAO deprived more than a few owners of the ability to improve or sell their property, without any compensation.
Dale Knapinski September 17, 2012 at 11:51 PM
King County has been PURCHASING development rights from property owners in the Sammamish Valley. The idea was to preserve the agricultural and rural land that serves to protect the Sammamish River, the existing trails, aquifers, and the fertile ground that allows us to have locally grown produce. The current owners of King County rural and agricultural land, purchased their property knowing what the restrictions were, and they have no "Right" to expect their property to be rezoned for commercial purposes. Property owners along the Sammamish Valley near Woodinville are asking KC and Woodinville to take a giant leap backwards with respect to preserving one of the greatest assets this area has to offer. Woodinville already has more than 100 wine tasting rooms, and Woodinville taxpayers spent $6 million dollars to improve their city in order to allow expansion of the tourist district WITHIN THEIR OWN boundary. Asking Woodinville residents to leave their own city property vacant, and ADD King County agricultural land to the saturated tourist district, is absurd. Woodinville taxpayers are saying NO to the annexation of Sammamish Valley land. More than 15 years ago, King County announced to area city leaders that we needed to preserve our natural resources. The King County council would have egg on their faces if they decided that all their previous efforts at preserving the valley was just a joke and they changed their mind now….geesh.
Ron Olson September 20, 2012 at 04:19 PM
When will they get the message? Some Woodinville councilmembers are still unwilling to get the message that moving the UGB in the Sammamish Valley is a dead issue. The push by a few property owners to destroy agricultural and rural land in favor of a hotel and more tasting rooms failed again, and for good reason. Now it's time for Woodinville to stop spending taxpayer funds on a dead cow. Woodinville does have legitimate concerns about how King County has been managing land in the Sammamish Valley, though. Take a look at the tractor repair business. The “In the face” attitude of that business is a blatant attack on King County and local citizens. The owner continually, and illegally, expands his non-conforming business knowing that King County will not enforce their codes. Adding two sales sheds, cars and trucks for sale, illegal signs, and oil dripping vehicles that pollute the nearby river, is behavior that needs to be addressed. Woodinville councilmembers did vote to call King County to task. Now we must wait to see if King County will ignore our plea for a cooperative effort to clean up their act, or if they will continue to turn their heads while the valley is left to the owners that choose to purposely vandalize the valley.
Mike Tanksley February 21, 2013 at 03:37 PM
How did I miss these comments last fall? Here are a couple of things for you to know, Michael. First, the land on both sides of the Sammamish River, where the bike trail exists, is already owned by King County Parks. That public ownership extends about 120 feet from the banks of the river. Second, to preserve the Rural Valley and the local investments that have been made based on current zoning, we are supporting keeping the Urban Growth Boundary where it currently exists. This does not constitute a "takings" as we are simply requesting that our policymakers maintain the zoning and codes that have existed on these properties for many years. It is a small group of landowners and developers who are hoping to change those policies in order for them to reap windfall profits - at the expense of the greater community around them. Now that would be a real "taking".

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