Controversial King County ordinance is again topic of town meeting

King County's proposed "Critical Areas Ordinance," a piece of legislation that aims to protect the environment in unincorporated parts of the county and has been a lightning-rod issue for rural property owners, will again be debated in Enumclaw.

One meeting was held in early 2003, when the ordinance had first been proposed. Now, a second draft has been released and is in line for public comment. King County had originally scheduled six public meetings to gather input, but has added a Nov. 5 meeting at Enumclaw High School. The session will consist of an information fair from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and public hearing from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

The current proposal, according to a press release issued by the county, "recognizes that property owners are the best stewards of their land." The county claims existing agricultural activities will be "largely exempt from fixed regulations" such as setbacks. Agricultural practices will be allowed to expand, the county says, if farmers develop a "Farm Management Plan" and implement "Best Management Practices."

Rural land owners have long been skeptical of the county's Department of Development and Environmental Services, arguing that King County is simply limiting what can be done on private property.

The public can comment on the current ordinance at the Nov. 5 meeting or by the following.

€ E-mail:

€ On the Web site:

€ By mail addressed to: CAO Comments, 201 S. Jackson St., Suite 600, Seattle, 98104.

Comments will be accepted until Nov. 21.

Copies of the ordinance can be found at the Enumclaw Public Library, on the Internet (, at county offices in Seattle and Renton and at community service centers in Cottage Lake, Fall City, Northshore, Black River, Sammamish and Vashon.

It is expected that County Executive Ron Sims will forward a final draft of the Critical Areas Ordinance to the Metropolitan King County Council early next year.

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