The Sept. 10 edition of the Reporter was stuffed in the back of the newspaper tube under my mailbox. Before recycling, I took a quick look. Inside there was a very unilateral news article (“Many eyes on comprehensive plan”) by staff writer Kris Hill in favor of having the King County Council vote to move the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) to include the “Covington Notch,” which is currently in unicorporated King County.
Moving the UGB would allow Covington to annex this area and tax the citizens of the Notch. Covington would then allow Branbar LLC (Barry Anderson and his two sons) to build an “urban village” on somewhere between 32 or 56 acres of the 72 acres Branbar owns in the 272-acre Notch. An urban village would consist of 250-plus housing units (townhouses and apartments) along with a strip mall and more roads to service the inhabitants.
The article featured an interview with Barry Anderson Jr. that was filled with inaccuracies.
For background, the Covington Notch is the loop of Jenkins Creek on the west side of State Rout 18, just north of Covington. Jenkins Creek contains salmon and cutthroat trout. According to the Critical Areas Ordinance, the setback by law from this creek is 300 feet, not 150 feet as stated in the article.
Mr. Anderson Jr. went on to state that “this development would protect the environment.” The soil here in the loop is gravel with eight to 10 inches of forest humous over 80 feet of pit run. The water table is very shallow (two to four feet near the creek and up to 15 feet near the center of the loop). The soil is so porous that the septic systems here require two holding tanks and a large sand mound to slow percolation into the soil. Paving 32 or 52 acres in the middle of the loop would create a massive runoff of heavy metals into the aquifer and the creek. The heavy metals kill anadramous fish and would foul the wells of the residents of the loop. It’s hard for me to see that as a protection of the environment.
The county Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES) recommended to the County Council that the UGB not be moved to include the loop of Jenkins Creek. Among the reasons they gave for their decision were the following:
• It would damage a sensitive wetlands environment and the anadramous fish in it.
• Covington has more than enough developable land within its current boundaries to meet its needs for at least the next 20 years.
• Covington isn’t able at this time to support a development outside it’s boundaries with roads, power, water and transportation services.
The people who live in the loop of Jenkins Creek won’t sell Branbar their development rights. They would rather protect this area than increase ther bank accounts.
In the article, it’s reported that Tim Hatley, a public affairs consultant and former county employee, claims “that there could be substantial environmental benefit if the proposed zoning change is accepted and all the other dominoes fall into place that allow Branbar to develop the notch.” If you beleive that, I know a man up north that can sell you a nice-looking dog that won’t hunt but likes to play dominoes..
John Ball lives in Covington.