We have been forced to inhabit where lies the wrong side of history, not by our own choice. In the 19th year of our efforts to defend ourselves, my family is damaged irreversibly and this has created a very sad situation.
We are old and perhaps public opinion by younger members of society would, on the surface, condemn us for attempting to sell our properties to land developers although we are part of the city and not in an unincorporated or rural area. We’re not talking about creating “sprawl” but rather sensible and Growth Management required housing density within the city of Bothell.
But in all these past years of effort, we have been stalled through a cultural change that is necessary but has carried us from rural to urban. Yet we are still rural by appearance. A last vestige of the past and an odd mix with the city surrounding area that is growing rapidly.
And now, by chance, land developers have done studies on this slope, Zone 1 of the subarea, that establishes the realities of ground water. It proves that the North Creek Critical Species Habitat agenda established the inclusion of our properties on false grounds – not the only falsehood discovered in council hearings.
The fervor to preserve fish habitat along North Creek was thought out, well enough, a good agenda, but the work done was incomplete, facts assumed. That was first established when the city finally sent a planner to Zone 1, the first official presence on the properties after a long period of deliberation before the city council. And quoting the representative planner who stated “You have to assume ground water flow” was made as we walked down through our commercial apple orchard that had produced successfully for over 20 years. Our inclusion in the Critical Species Habitat that disallowed us from selling our lands was based too much on assumptions.
Now, the current Pit Tests conducted by a developer, at some expense and that we couldn’t afford to do on our own, have shown that the ground water flow assumed is not there. Certainly a farmer like myself could have told the city that, but my word was considered with disdain and written off because I dared to disagree with the agenda’s inclusion of these properties, far distant from the creek.
Our Zone 1 lands, of the Fitzgerald subarea, are easily established as a non influence over the portion of North Creek that is in preservation as a fish habitat. There is great disagreement as to whether that portion of the creek will have any success in light of the hyper housing-growth north and the entire rest of the North Creek system, which is consumed in south Snohomish County growth.
At this point, the ability to sell our land is still in limbo. The end of the 19th year of trying is looming and we are getting beyond our years to really enjoy any retirement. This is what a lack of due diligence has left us with. We have been, as Mark Twain wrote, “sold down river.”
Tom Berry, Bothell