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Originally published Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 4:54 PM

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Woodinville, King County to discuss how to nurture wine industry, farming

Owners of land just outside Woodinville won't be allowed to build wineries, restaurants and a hotel any time soon, but the Metropolitan King County Council has directed County Executive Dow Constantine to talk to city officials about how to promote wineries and farming.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Owners of land just outside Woodinville won't be allowed to build wineries, restaurants and a hotel any time soon, but the city and King County will discuss ways to promote the wine industry and farming.

The Metropolitan King County Council has asked County Executive Dow Constantine to work with Woodinville to develop recommendations on how to nurture the two industries, which have been in conflict with each other over the future of the Sammamish Valley.

A request by several property owners for re-designation of their land from rural to urban did not come up for a vote. Constantine and County Council leadership opposed the request, which was supported by the Woodinville City Council.

Constantine's staffers said moving the urban-growth boundary wasn't justified, because Woodinville failed to show the city had run of out commercial land to support growth of its wine industry. Urban development next to a county-protected agricultural-production district also would jeopardize farming, staffers said.

Moving the growth line would allow more intensive development and let Woodinville annex areas newly designated as urban.

The landowners and their supporters said the properties proposed for urban designation already had some urban uses and were appropriate places for annexation by the city and for commercial uses that support the wine industry and agritourism. They said more urban land is needed for wineries, tasting rooms, restaurants and hotels.

Lucy DeYoung, a former Woodinville mayor who wants the city to annex the properties, said she was pleased about the upcoming talks.

"My position was that the county and the city needed to do a joint-planning effort for the valley," DeYoung said. "So I think it's an excellent step forward in terms of the county and the city coming together to figure out what's best for the valley and agritourism and the wine industry."

Woodinville Mayor Bernie Talmas, who opposed moving the urban-growth line, said he thinks the upcoming discussions will address the real issue.

"Everybody realizes that Woodinville has become a tourist destination with all the wineries and wine-tasting rooms there. We don't have sufficient hotel space, for example, for the demand, and the question is how do we get it and where do we put it," Talmas said.

The County Council has approved an updated countywide comprehensive plan that included a Woodinville amendment co-sponsored by Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who supported a larger urban area, and Councilmember Larry Phillips, who opposed it.

The amendment called on Constantine to discuss the wine and agriculture industries with Woodinville officials, taking into account road and sidewalk needs, failing septic systems, character of the rural area, the amount of available land in the city, the "finite nature and value" of farmland and county growth policies.

Lambert said talks between the city and county were possible, because the Woodinville City Council proposed a thoughtful agenda for discussion and because, "This is a new day and we have an executive who actually likes to talk to the cities and work with them."

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com

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