SEATTLE—A bus full of Woodinville environmental activists flooded the King County Council meeting room to express their opposition toward the adult-beverage ordinance Dec. 4.
Fifty-three people testified against the proposed ordinance. Only two attendees spoke in favor of the revisions. The council ultimately voted 5-4 to approve the ordinance, with the addition of one amendment.
The amendment requires production facilities to cap the number of events allowed per month at eight. The revised ordinance had not set a limit of events for qualifying businesses. The exemption only applies to production facilities, not remote tasting rooms.
“The updated code provides clear rules around the size and scale of wineries, distilleries and breweries in the rural and agricultural areas of King County, including limits on parking, hours, access and other factors,” said County Councilmember Claudia Balducci in a news release.
She said the code, which was adopted in 2003, failed to regulate the growing industry in King County. The code contained many ambiguities that made it difficult for businesses to follow and the county to enforce, she added.
As a result, there has been an ongoing stream of conflict in already increasing growth rate in the city to ongoing disruptions caused by neighboring adult-beverage businesses.
Most arguments focused on a decreased quality of life, in addition to various economic and environmental impacts brought on by the revised ordinance. Farmers shared concerns about the future of rural agriculture as the costs of farmland rise.
A majority of testimonies questioned enforcement of the current code, saying the ordinance loosens existing rules and revisions have left the measure convoluted. One person claimed approving the legislation will set a standard that affects all future land use in King County.
Tim Trohimovitch, co-director of planning and law at Futurewise, said efforts to protect and restore habitat for Chinook salmon and resident orcas would not be possible with the proposed ordinance. He said Woodinville needs to grow up, not out.
“King County has a great record of containing urban growth within urban growth areas, protecting farmland and supporting farmers. This ordinance doesn’t do that,” Trohimovitch said.
Dozens of testimonies referenced the importance of protecting and preserving farmlands. The fear of climate change was mentioned often, as well as the impact on endangered species.
Attendees repeatedly told Council that approval of the ordinance is not reversible, especially once land is paved. Woodinville resident Gary Mattson said history will be lost if the ordinance is approved.
“The valley was home to wildlife of all sorts. The fields were full,” Mattson said. “If this ordinance passes, you need to all go down to the Sammamish Valley and take all the pictures you can for future generations.”
Many other long-time Woodinville residents highlighted the importance of protecting future children with “rural, bio-diverse ecosystems.” Another testimony said the expanding wine industry romanticizes alcohol for young generations.
A young mother testified about worsening sewer and traffic patterns as a result of more people coming into the city for social activities. Others warned about the area becoming a “dangerous pub crawl.”
“I don’t think the facts are convincing to a lot of people. We have heard things today that are simply not true,” Balducci said. “There is a problem in the Sammamish Valley area, and this ordinance is an attempt to address that problem.”
Councilmember Kathy Lambert said the council has taken significant steps to protect agricultural lands. She said the new code protects more land than the current code.
“There are some businesses that will have to close their doors. We are aware of that,” Lambert said. “Our job is to make hard decisions.”
The Tourist District will see major developments in the coming years. City Council approved a development agreement for the Woodinville Wine Village project in a 4-1 vote on Dec. 3.
The agreement between the City and Wood Mountain LLC allows for a 20.4-acre mixed-use development. The project includes 425 residential units, a grocery store, several restaurants, space for retail businesses or offices and a 165-room hotel and conference center. Along with other improvements to the area, there will be large parking lots and storage warehouse space.
“This is the evaluation we did through the State Environmental Policy Act review,” Director of Development Services Robert Grumbach said. “This is basically giving an overall idea and scope of what the proposed project may include.”
He said the actual breakdown of numbers and exact business establishments will be modified or altered when development
begins. The types of housing for residential units will differ as well.
“The 425 residential units include a possible mixture of townhouses and multifamily dwellings,” Grumbach said. “The Tourist Business Zone does not allow residential development unless it is approved through a development agreement.”
The development is located near the intersection of Woodinville-Redmond Road and Northeast 145th Street. The large size and scope of the project warrant a 10-year timeframe, which is the maximum amount of time allowed for the development agreement.
“They are asking for 10 years on this development agreement and they want to be able to follow the regulations in place today,” Grumbach said.
City Council authorized a 67-foot maximum height for the hotel at a meeting on Nov. 19. The maximum height limit for buildings and structures within the Tourist District was 45 feet prior to the agreement. Council also approved the planning commission’s recommendation to add two 6-foot by 10-foot spaces for rental bikes and scooters.
During construction, the agreement requires Wood Mountain LLC to have at least 100 temporary graveled parking stalls, which must be removed within seven years. All permanent parking stalls will be provided in a parking garage or on the surface level within that amount of time.
Wood Mountain asked for a 50% reduction in parking stalls for the wine village portion of the project, dropping the number of stalls from 767 to 384. Grumbach said they based the reduction on a mix of moderate and best-case assumptions.
He said the original number of parking spots was calculated based on a configuration of uses they are considering for the project. The newest proposal from the City has 480 parking stalls, which is a 37.4% reduction.
While the parking study is still underway, Grumbach said the final calculation is anticipated to support a 34.5% reduction or 502 stalls.
Once approved by the public space commission, three public art projects will be added to the development. A public park will be created near the Sammamish River and King County trail in the northwest corner of the project.
Council recently approved rectangular rapidly flashing beacons to increase public safety in the area. The beacons will be installed in the crosswalks of the State Route 202 roundabouts.
The City and MJR Development, Inc. executed a development agreement for the same property back in 2005. They had begun a wine-themed property was known as the Woodinville Wine Village.
Construction was eventually terminated by MJR after economic issues. This happened after MJR obtained permits from the City and installed storm drainage systems, water stubs for domestic water and fire flow, sanitary sewer stubs and dry conduits.
Wood Mountain proposed to resume the development of the property and submitted the development agreement application on May 15. The company aims to take over a project that is more consistent with current marketing conditions and City plans.
The project will continue to be known as the Woodinville Wine Village.
Santa’s arrival in Woodinville was uniquely different. Rather than wearing out his reindeer before the big day, he allowed an antique fire truck to carry him to the tree lighting ceremony Saturday, Dec. 7.
Once reunited with Mayor Elaine Cook, the two joined forces to light the infamous tree and spread Christmas cheer across the city.
Woodinville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kimberly Ellertson said the tree was planted a few years earlier when Winterfest was moved to DeYoung Park.
“The tree grows with the community,” she said. “It will get much bigger.”
Event Manager Jeanie Rash said the event first started at Windermere Real Estate with a Santa event that grew over the years. Eventually, the annual celebration was taken over by the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce.
Ellertson said the day began at Wilmot Gateway Park for the Winterfest 5K and 10K, followed by a finishers celebration. She said Winterfest partnered with the Forgotten Children’s Fund to provide toys to children whose families may not be able to put presents under the tree on Christmas morning.
Later in the evening, community members gathered at DeYoung Park. The holiday fair featured seasonal activities and treats provided by the Chamber and Winterfest sponsors. The property owner, TRF Pacific, also helps sponsor the event.
Ellertson said the mission of Winterfest is to encourage a sense of community and promote local wineries, breweries, businesses and agriculture.
The park was filled with activities and crafts sponsored by local businesses. Woodinville Sports Club provided games for children and adults. Sammamish Valley Grange hosted a wreath-making table. The Woodinville Rotary Club also offered arts and crafts. Chick-Fil-A even set up a booth with chicken sandwiches.
While children did crafts, parents huddled in the beer and wine garden. Lots of hot chocolate, popcorn and cookies were offered at various booths.
Choir students from East Ridge Elementary performed on stage for all to watch. Choir director Janie Anderson said the fourth and fifth graders started rehearsing in October.
The students featured festive winter songs for all holidays. Anderson said the students performed “Jingle Bells,” which is known as a classic Christmas song, but was actually meant to be sung on Thanksgiving.
She said the choir wants to “focus more on inclusion.” Instead, their theme places emphasis on holiday spirit, rather than celebrating just one holiday.
This year, a special surprise was provided by one of the singers in Teatro ZinZanni prior to the arrival of Santa.
Ellertson said this is the first year Teatro ZinZanni has made an appearance at Winterfest.
The Woodinville Chamber of Commerce has donated $3,445 to the Woodinville Fire & Rescue’s Firefighters Benevolent Fund.
The money was raised at the Chamber’s 2019 Luncheon, Thursday, Nov. 21, from member’s registration fees ($1,670) and items auctioned off at the event.
“We were honored to present the check(s),” Chamber Executive Director Kimberly Ellertson said. “Woodinville Fire & Rescue in turn then chose to support the city of Woodinville Police Department’s Shop-With-A-Cop 2019. The money will help numerous families in our community to have a joy-filled Holiday Season!
“Woodinville Florist donated 12 gorgeous Thanksgiving Centerpieces that were auctioned off at the luncheon. Thank you to all of our members and guests who helped to make this difference to so many!”