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Define rural, protect it
Snohomish County will soon be holding community meetings to define rural character. This is an important process that demands citizen participation. The resulting definition will influence the kind and scale of development allowed in our rural lands. It is also important, however, that the county participate fully and actually make changes necessary to protect that rural environment.
After all, the public overwhelmingly asked that density bonuses in rural cluster housing be reduced in the latest update of the Unified Development Code. I would ask the County Council to send the revised code back to the planning department since density bonuses have not been addressed at all.
A great many of us have also asked the county to get rid of the code that allows a city of 15,000 people be built on 2,000 rural acres. The County Council failed by Councilman John Koster's vote to institute a moratorium on these cities. In addition, our County Executive, Aaron Reardon, lobbied the Puget Sound Regional Council to remove language from its planning documents that asked counties to avoid developing these cities. He was quoted by the Seattle Times to say that "nothing prevents sprawl."
I sincerely hope that this new process of defining rural character will not end in more words that look good on our executive's re-election campaign material, but do little or nothing, backed by little or no real and substantive action, to prevent the sprawl he apparently thinks is inevitable.
It is still incumbent upon us as citizens to take part in the process. But let's not forget to demand the change, as well.
Ellen Hiatt Watson