By Kent Larsen
LDS Church-backed Seattle Amendment Makes Ballot
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- An amendment to the King County, Washington charter
backed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other
religions in the Seattle area will appear on the ballot in the county in
November. The County Council agreed to put the measure on the ballot Monday
in an 11-2 vote in spite of critics who said that the measure is irrelevant,
since it contains the same language that is already in the state constitution.
The amendment was introduced by councilman Kent Pullen, one of the
supporters of area churches earlier this year after County Executive Ron
Sims proposed new zoning restrictions on rural churches and schools. His
amendment was generally supported by the churches, who are trying to keep
Sims from further attempts to limit the growth of rural churches.
The zoning issue first came up last year when Sims proposed that new
churches and schools outside of the county's urban growth boundary be
limited to no more than 10,000 square feet. In February the council passed a
moratorium on new construction until December to allow time for a task force
to study the issue. But in July the council voted for looser restrictions,
of 40,000 square feet, supported by local church leaders, including the LDS
Church. Sims vetoed the measure, in an uneasy compromise that left the
zoning laws alone and ended the 5-month-long moratorium.
Pullen introduced his amendment in July, trying to limit Sims' ability to
again try to limit the growth of rural churches. In response to suggestions
from local religions, he changed the amendment so that it only included the
same language already found in Washington state's constitution, leading some
council members to call the measure irrelevant.
After a hearing two weeks ago, Pullen agreed to a proposal by Councilman
Larry Phillips, D-Seattle, to add the language from the State constitution
that barred the government from doing anything to promote religion. This
change led most opponents to support the measure.
However, two councilmen voted against the amendment. Council member Louise
Miller said she voted against the measure simply because churches think it
will help them in future zoning battles, while councilman Larry Gossett
called it unnecessary and questioned the politics behind it, "If you don't
agree with religious leaders, you're all of a sudden anti-religion. If I
vote for [the charter amendment], I'm condoning that."
Voters in King county, which includes Seattle, must still approve the
measure before it becomes part of the charter, the equivalent of the
Religious freedom to be on ballot
Seattle WA Times 18Sep01 T1
By Eric Pryne: Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle-area Zoning Fight Leads Church to Support Amendment
Seattle Church Zoning Compromise on the Way
Despite Local LDS Grass-roots Effort, Seattle Church Zoning Battle Continues
Church Tells King County: Rural Limits Unconstitutional
Seattle Zoning Battle Shifts to Washington State Legislature
Seattle Area Ban on New Chapels Inconveniences Area Churches