Donut hole bill signed by Gov. Inslee

Gov. Inslee signed Senate Bill 5417 Tuesday afternoon which will allow Maple Valley to annex the donut hole property.

Gov. Inslee signed Senate Bill 5417 Tuesday afternoon which will allow Maple Valley to annex the donut hole property.

The bill, which faced a last minute challenge by King County, will enable cities to annex larger chunks of property than state law previously allowed.

In a letter dated May 15 King County Executive Dow Constantine and other members of the Metropolitan King County Council urged Gov. Inslee to veto the bill.

“Now comes the really hard work,” said Maple Valley Mayor Bill Allison in a phone interview May 22. “It’s going to take another year, year and a half to annex the property, but this allows us the opportunity to do that.”

Maple Valley officials advocated the bill because it would allow the city to annex Summit Place — a 156-acre chunk of land known as the donut hole — owned by King County that is in the middle of the city.

Key issues for the county as cited in the letter include being able to sell the property at a price that will enable the county to replace the transportation maintenance facility that is currently located on the property, maintaining control of the property until the close of a sale, and the ability to continue to operate the maintenance facility on site until it can be relocated.

The land is currently zoned for residential development and the county had previously negotiated with developer YarrowBay in 2008, negotiations that ultimately fell through.

The city would like to see the property annexed and rezoned to allow for commercial development and supports the district’s vision for a new high school.

“If such an annexation and rezone has the result of significantly devaluing the property, it is highly likely that the County’s fundamental needs will not be met, and we will be forced to keep our roads and mining operations on the site indefinitely,” the letter from the county stated.

For Maple Valley the issue is one of being able to control the vision for the city and the way in which the city is developed.

“The City pursued this legislative option solely to secure our future as a City,” stated the city’s letter to Inslee, dated May 16. “By guiding the potential uses of the ‘Donut Hole’ property, located in the center of our City, the City will be able to fully pursue its visioning and planning processes.”

In March, Allison talked to The Reporter and expressed the City Council’s concern about what the reality of how another large influx of new homes would impact the city.

Allison cited a lack of infrastructure, the already overtaxed school system, and a lack of jobs as potential problems.

“I would say that their (the county’s) main concern is that the property is going to be devalued, they stated that in testimony…what we have told King County from the very beginning is that we would like to see them to continue to use the property for what they need to use the property for,” Allison said May 17. “They understand our vision for putting the school there and putting the regional jobs on the property. We also understand that this may not be the time for them to sell…they can hold on to it for as long as they need to hold on to it for the market to recover.”

The donut hole is home to a county transportation maintenance facility, nine holes of the Elk Run Golf Course, and undeveloped land. The donut hole is entirely surrounded by the city of Maple Valley.

Annexation would shift control of zoning the property form King County, which also owns the land, to the city. The bill would not affect the ownership of the property.

“In our testimony…in anything we have ever said, is we have said we will work with the county to be able to do what they need to do on their property,” Allison said. “What we are looking for is control in the zoning and the heartbeat of our community…we understand King County needs to be able to continue to do the work that they do. We simply need to be sure of the security of our future, that we are not left with a mess that King County has left us.”