Landowners who say they want to move away from the rural rage that has plagued King County in recent months have formed a new group that...
Landowners who say they want to move away from the rural rage that has plagued King County in recent months have formed a new group that they say will take a more-positive approach to addressing rural concerns.
Rural Majority describes itself as a grass-roots group that wants to represent the majority of rural residents.
“There is anger, but there are a lot more people out here who aren’t angry,” said Mike Tanksley, who lives near Woodinville and helped found the group. “Some of the voices out there so far haven’t reflected the majority view.”
Tanksley said many rural residents do have some concerns about the county’s controversial new Critical Areas Ordinances, which restrict how residents can use their property. But, he said, such things as code enforcement and natural-resource protection are equally pressing concerns.
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Since King County leaders last year approved the new land-use rules, some landowners have organized formal and informal groups to protest in marches and at meetings. Some have engaged in civil disobedience and have ignored permitting laws they view as unfair, and in some cases sheriff’s deputies have been called out during heated disputes over rural land issues.
Tanksley said Rural Majority hopes to use legislative channels to propose policies that will benefit landowners while improving relationships.
Group members said that while many rural residents have land-use concerns, they also believe that land-use regulations are necessary.
“The pressures of growth and development could destroy our rural areas, yet so far all I’ve been hearing is a minority of angry rural residents threatening to dismantle efforts to protect the countryside,” said Louise Miller, a group member, rural resident and former Metropolitan King County councilwoman.
Among other goals, the group will ask King County to:
• Provide better tax incentives for land protection.
• Establish a Small Land Owners Assistance Program.
• Create a Rural Advisory Council.
The county has heard about the group and will be willing to work with it on rural issues, said county-appointed rural liaison joan burlingame (who does not capitalize her name).
“Instead of yelling at each other and calling each other names, we have to work together,” she said. “Any group that can help unpolarize things is a good thing.”
Representatives of the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, a political-action committee of rural residents that has been active in rural issues in recent months, did not return calls seeking comment about the new group.
Rural Majority says it is just now gaining membership and will represent residents from the Snoqualmie Valley to Enumclaw to Vashon Island.
Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or firstname.lastname@example.org