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The battle to preserve rural agricultural land is ongoing

  • Written by Madeline Coats

The fight to preserve the Sammamish Valley and rural King County is ongoing. After a series of losses against county government, local citizens continue to challenge the adult-beverage ordinance. 

King County Executive Dow Constantine recently declined to veto the ordinance, passed by the King County Council on a 5-4 vote Dec. 4.

The ordinance was passed despite strong opposition from a broad array of citizens, businesses, and organizations. As a result, the Friends of Sammamish Valley (FoSV) plans to challenge the measure at the Growth Management Hearings Board.

“While there is never a guarantee of a positive outcome in legal proceedings, we are certain we have a very strong case that the ordinance violates the Growth Management Act (GMA) in a number of ways,” said Serena Glover, executive director of FoSV.

The organization argues that the ordinance is inconsistent with the GMA and the King County Comprehensive Plan because the “viability of agricultural land is threatened.” FoSV said the measure would change zoning codes that originally protected farmland and rural neighborhoods from urban development.

Business owners and citizens have raised concerns about increased traffic along Redmond-Woodinville Road. Others think the community’s quality of life will suffer.

FoSV said the ordinance attempts to redefine the process of manufacturing by requiring that wineries, breweries and distilleries conduct at least two stages of production on-site. The previous code required all stages of beverage production to be completed on the property. 

While remote tasting rooms are currently not allowed in rural areas, the ordinance expands alcohol sales onto rural and agricultural lands by permitting 500 square feet of outdoor space for retail drinking areas. This revision to the code will create needs for sewer, water and stormwater facilities in these areas, in addition to expanded streets and sidewalks.

As the legal fight ensues, FoSV intends to raise about $40,000 in the coming weeks to cover attorney fees.

“Given what we have raised to-date and our continually growing membership base, I am confident we can raise these funds. But to do so will require everyone to pitch in,” Glover said.

In the last two weeks, Glover said FoSV co-founders and major donors have already contributed $50,000 to a matching fund. All donations before Feb. 9 will be matched, she added.

The environmental group is currently working on a legal challenge with Futurewise, a statewide organization that focuses on the proper implementation of GMA. 

FoSV has already submitted over 1,000 pages of legal arguments and supporting evidence to the official King County record.

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