The GMVUAC has followed the activities at the Reserve Silica site in Ravensdale for decades. The GMVUAC has convened multiple meetings on Reserve Silica’s past attempts at securing an upzone and a Demonstration Project to build many homes, respectively, through the 2012 and 2016 King County Comprehensive Plans (KCCPs). The GMVUAC has met with all key WA State and King County Agencies, as well as the requestor, and has conducted extensive research into Reserve Silica’s 2017 KCCP Docket Item #3 request. Docket items are the process by which a change to the KCCP can be requested during annual updates. Such requested changes are meant to be relatively minor or to correct a deficiency.
In addition to detailed comments submitted to County staff, the GMVUAC submitted the following letter to the King County Council for its consideration at its December 4, 2017, meeting during which it considered, and ultimately denied, Reserve Silica’s Docket Item #3 request for inclusion in the 2017 Comprehensive Plan Update:
The GMVUAC opposed the Docket Item #3 request for the following reasons with details and supporting rationale presented in our comments.
1. State’s Growth Management Act (GMA)
It does not in any way conform to the GMA to repair a “deficiency” in the KCCP. The Annual cycle of amending comprehensive plans is meant to handle “minor” technical revisions.
- State Appellate Court Decisions
By not bifurcating the consideration of the Comprehensive Plan and what is a separate zone change subject to independent public hearings conducted by the Hearing Examiner, the site specific proposal made by Reserve Silica and the combination of concurrent legislative and quasi-judicial functions constitutes illegal spot zoning clearly in contravention of numerous State appellate court decisions.
- King County Code
It would violate, at a minimum, the following King County Code:
TITLE 19A. LAND SEGREGATION
19A.04.205 Large lot segregation.
TITLE 20. PLANNING
20.18.030 General procedures. B.
20.18.050 Site-specific land use map and shoreline master program map amendments initiation. I. and J.
20.18.055 Site-specific land use map amendment review standards and transmittal procedures.
20.18.140 Provision for receipt, review of and response to the docket.
TITLE 21A ZONING
21A.12.040 Densities and dimensions – resource and commercial/industrial zones.
21A.22.081 Reclamation B.
- King County Comprehensive Plan (KCCP)
It would violate, at a minimum, the following KCCP policies:
Chapter 3—Rural Areas and Natural Resource Lands
R-208 [Rural Forest Focus Areas]
R-304 [individual zone reclassifications are discouraged and should not be allowed in the Rural Area]
R-305 [residential density of one home per 20 ac on Rural Area lands managed for forestry]
R-691 [reclamation of mining sites in the Forest Production District should return the land to forestry…zoning classification should be compatible with the surrounding properties]
Chapter 12—Implementation, Amendments, & Evaluation
I-203 [annual cycle shall not consider proposed substantive changes]
- Forest Production District (FPD)
It essentially would establish residential use within the boundaries of the FPD. The overarching goal of the FPD—and the Rural Forest Focus Areas (RFFAs)—is to retain large, contiguous blocks of forest land. This overarching goal would clearly not be achieved by upzoning the 122 ac to a RA-10 land use/zoning. As recently confirmed by King County’s Department of Permitting & Environmental Review (DPER) staff, reforestation of all this land and retaining the underlying zone as Forestry are also consistent with the King County Code requirements applicable to the surface mining permit reclamation plan and program for the entire Reserve Silica site.
- Upzoning “Domino” Effect
It could cause a “domino” effect in the FPD. If these 122 ac go to a rural residential land use, then the two Forestry-zoned, FPD parcels to the west will be forever isolated from the FPD block. So, why not upzone them also, as Reserve Silica tried to do in 2012? Then why not upzone the 52-ac Inert Waste Lot #5 next? Then why not upzone the 58-ac “Plant Site/Settling Ponds” tract? Should the precedent be set with these 122 ac, a classic domino effect of continuing upzones likely could follow. In fact, if the FPD boundary were pushed to the east of Reserve Silica’s site, the 80-ac Lot 3, currently zoned Forestry, could be upzoned as Reserve Silica tried to do in 2016. Consequently, upzoning of Reserve Silica’s 122 ac would create a precedent for upzoning other depleted mining/industrial sites and a loop-hole for upzoning other substandard sized lots in the FPD. Such a very dangerous domino effect should be avoided at all costs!
- State Department of Ecology (DOE)
It is premature to even contemplate any change in use until a Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) has been completed and accepted by the State DOE. Until DOE accepts a final RI/FS and clearly defines the MTCA cleanup “site” contours (i.e., parts or all of the site), Reserve Silica cannot state or prove unequivocally that contamination is contained to any portion of the site, thus rendering any consideration for future residential zoning moot.
Finally, the King County Council has taken two previous actions during the major four-year KCCP Update related to the Reserve Silica site in 2012 and 2016. Both decisions wisely rejected Reserve Silica’s previous requests to change its land use and zoning from Mineral/Mining to Rural Residential/RA-10. In addition, the 2016 decision removed the option from being pursued during the annual KCCP Update cycles.