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Forest agreement could limit city’s future plans
I am a city councilman, and my wife is a doctor in our community. We own property in the city of Enumclaw. I work in real estate. We are writing this letter as concerned private citizens to provide information to our community.
King County has proposed purchasing the development rights on 43,000 acres from the east city limits of Enumclaw to Greenwater from Hancock Forest Management for $11.1 million. It is our understanding that some of the funds for the purchase are being used from a King County Parks levy.
Past Greenwater to Mount Rainier the land is owned by either the Department of Forestry or Parks. The proposed conservation easement would be recorded against the land. Hancock would continue to own and harvest the timber.
Prior to January 2012 residents of King County were able to access the Hancock forest property for recreational purposes for free. Beginning January 2012 Hancock started to require a fee to users of the land for recreational purposes.
I spoke with John Davis of Hancock Forest Management on Monday, March 25. Davis said there is a signed contract. However, the contract is subject to the approval of the King County Council.
Davis said a fee would continue to be charged for recreational users after the development rights are sold. It is unclear what guarantees residents will have regarding affordable access for recreational use.
When King County purchased the development rights of the Thomas Farm (150 acres) in Enumclaw city limits several years no approval was obtained from the city of Enumclaw. The sale of the development rights on the Thomas Farm has left a large hole that is undevelopeable in our city that is surrounded by utilities.
If the proposal is approved, all potential future development (on approximately 43,000 acres of Hancock property) options east of city limits will be permanently eliminated. The approval and/or terms of this purchase will influence the future affordability of housing and the quality of life of this community well into the future.
Here are a few questions for the city council and community to consider: does the city council and community have an interest in expanding the east urban growth boundary of our city to any extent at any time in the future? Since park funds are being used for this purchase, what sureties are there in the contract that residents will be allowed recreational access to these lands and/or at affordable costs?
The bill was introduced to King County Council on March 25. The budget committee had a hearing on the development rights purchase on April 2 at 1:30 p.m. No public testimony will be held at the hearing, The hearing will remain open until April 16 at which time the proposal will be sent to full council where public testimony will be allowed on April 29 at 1:30 p.m. The hearing and the council meet at 516 3rd Ave. 10th Floor, Seattle. Dates and times may be subject to change.
The Enumclaw Community and Economic Development committee will consider the proposal at its meeting on Tuesday, April 2, at 5:30 p.m. and the public may attend. In addition the public can provide comments regarding the proposal at the next city council meeting on April 8 at 7:30 p.m.
The residents of Enumclaw and King County deserve to understand this transaction and it’s impact on your family and posterity. Please contact councilman McDermott at 1-206-296-1008 or email Joe.McDermott@KingCounty.gov to view your opinion regarding this proposed transaction. Please include Reagan.firstname.lastname@example.org in email. Also, you are invited to let any of your local city councilman know of your opinions on this proposal. You can obtain city council email addresses at www.cityofenumclaw.org
Holly Dickson, M.D.