Planning for Maple Valley must be democratic process

This article is in response to the misleading and inaccurate article submitted to the Reporter by Maple Valley City Councilman Noel Gerken (July 5, “Maple Valley’s future hinges on Four Corners planning”).

It is with some regret that this article is being sent, but the hype and misinformation, as submitted by Councilman Gerken, can’t be ignored.

For several years, the city of Maple Valley has been looking at ways to insure the future viability of our great city. As residential development has significantly slowed, the resulting revenues that come from this new development have also slowed down. This lost income has resulted in the city needing to find new revenue streams to insure that it can remain financially stable in future years.

One method for doing this was to develop sub-area plans for the two commercial areas of Wilderness Village and Four Corners. The first of these plans focused on the Four Corners area.

This has been a multi-year process, involving consultants, advisory committees and many public meetings. While this plan is a work in progress, there is to date no officially recommended plan. There are many thoughts and ideas, but nothing has yet been formally approved by the City Council.

One of the major issues has centered around what type of uses and how much of any single use can and will be appropriate for the area. There has been significant discussion about whether commercial/retail use will be enough, or does this need to be balanced with our ability to provide an employment base offering living-wage jobs. This is a major policy issue and hasn’t yet been decided. However, all seven council members have acknowledged the need for living-wage jobs.

Other unresolved items include:

• Looking at any proposed zoning changes and how those changes will impact existing businesses.

• How possible relocation of existing businesses will be addressed and where will they relocate to.

• How much shuld building sizes be increased and where should these increases occur.

• And last but not least, is the existing population, within our trade area, large enough to support the goods and services that are proposed in this planning? If not, do citizens want to travel outside the area for these services or will they support increased densities, including standalone multi-family units, to make this sub-area plan work?

There has been great input and feedback from citizens, property owners, businesses and our Economic Development Committee and Planning Commission.

What makes this difficult is that the feedback is conflicting. There is no single solution that seems to be clearly supported by the majority of the user groups. Council has some very difficult decisions to make over the coming months.

What is very clear is that this will require compromise and consensus from everyone involved. It can not, and should not, be driven by the passion of any one individual.

This is a democratic process, and it must be allowed to proceed in the democratic way!

Mayor Laure Iddings and Glenn Smith, Layne Barnes, Linda Johnson and Dave Pilgrim are members of the Maple Valley City Council.

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