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Sent on Mormon-News: 23Jun01

By Kent Larsen

Seattle Church Zoning Compromise on the Way

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- King County Council members fighting over proposed limits on the size of rural churches are on the verge of a compromise, according to a report in the Seattle Times. The newspaper says a vote on the compromise could come as early as next Monday, if council members can agree on the environmental restrictions that should be placed on churches and schools in rural areas. The dispute led LDS Church officials and other religious leaders to openly criticize a proposal by County Executive Ron Sims which would have limited new churches and schools outside of the county's urban growth boundary to no more than 10,000 square feet.

The possibility of a compromise arose last week when Sims indicated he would consider dropping the proposed size limit in fovor of environmental restrictions on the buildings. But that compromise position hasn't cleared away all the problems, since the environmental restrictions would increase costs to churches and schools.

But Sims believed he had made a step toward solving the dispute, and said he believed everyone was working toward a solution, "I think everybody's trying to have a compromise," Sims said yesterday. "This is an issue with passion on both sides." The LDS Church's representative, Gordon Conger, an Area Authority Seventy in Bellevue, Washington, welcomed Sims' changed position, "The executive has made a major change in position, which we welcome."

Sims' opponents, led by Democrat Maggi Fimia and six Republicans, a majority of the 13-member council, have spent the past two weeks working with churches and schools to come up with acceptable environmental restrictions. Sims has made it clear that if the restrictions aren't strong enough, he will veto the legislation, "If we're not going to have size limits, we want strong environmental protections," the Democratic executive said yesterday. "We're still waiting to see that commitment (from the Fimia group)." The council is split evenly enough that getting the nine votes necessary to override a veto seems unlikely.

The two sides still differ over allowing rural churches to drill their own wells, extending sewers to rural schools and requiring rural churches and schools to comply with salmon-protection rules.


Vote nears on rural churches, schools; veto remains likely
Seattle WA Times 19Jun01 T1
By Eric Pryne: Seattle Times staff reporter


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