On June 17, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn introduced a motion to purchase six parcels of land along SR-169 through the county’s Conservation Futures Committee.
The funding for this purchase would come from the Conservation Futures tax levy, which is used to help preserve land in King County as open space to maintain a healthy and pleasant environment.
The move is set-up to be somewhat of a counter to the proposed asphalt plant that is awaiting permitting to be built adjacent to Cedar River.
Many people in the community have advocated against the facility, including Dunn, for fears of the environmental impact on the salmon-bearing Cedar River as well as the potential health impact on local residents.
Earlier in June, Dunn wrote a letter to the King County Permitting Division “imploring” them to not permit the plant to be built, calling the asphalt plant “a mistake of monumental proportions.”
A petition opposing the plant, created by Citizens to Stop the SR 169 Asphalt Plant, has received over 9,000 signatures.
“Conserving the adjacent properties will help provide a buffer and preserve the rural character of unincorporated communities near Renton and Maple Valley,” Dunn said. “More importantly, this funding would ensure that if the proposed property for the asphalt plant gets locked up in court, the county will be at the ready to purchase it as open space.”
King County would use the acquired land as an open space corridor addition, community separator, wildlife habitat, and scenic resources, protecting it from development and other uses, according to a press release from Dunn.
The properties would connect the Cedar Grove Natural Area to the Spring Lake-Lake Desire Park-McGarvey Park open space complex, which consists of over 925 acres of contiguous protected open space, over five miles of recreational trails, and habitat for a variety of wildlife. They would also provide a buffer to the neighborhood of Maple Valley Heights, protecting it from SR-169 traffic noise.
In his formal letter to the King County executive branch, Dunn vowed to continue his “fight” against the asphalt plant that he believes is “out of compliance” with the county’s growth management policies to preserve rural character to protect the environment.
If the legislation is approved, The Water and Land Resources Division of King County’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks would submit proposals to the landowners and jurisdictions in which the prioritized properties are located as part of the 2022 Conservation Futures tax levy funding selection process. Dunn’s motion will be referred to the Mobility and Environment Committee.