Vision Statement: Our community's Rural Character will be supported by facilitating strong local ties and communication between the public, organizations, and government; promoting locally owned businesses and supporting quality education; protecting the environment, and maintaining landowners' rights and responsibilities; promoting controlled and well-planned growth with appropriate infrastructure; ensuring proper representation for rural interests and needs; and supporting the health and safety and the privacy of our vibrant community.

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About the Greater Maple Valley Unincorporated Area Council

The Greater Maple Valley Unincorporated Area Council (GMVUAC) is an all-volunteer, locally elected advisory body to the King County Council. All members reside in the unincorporated portion of Tahoma School District #409 (see Service Area Map). The Area Council represents and advocates with King County, state officials, and other organizations for our unincorporated area's citizens' interests. Regular meetings occur on the first Monday of each month. (Read more ....)


November Meeting

The Area Council will hold its regular monthly meeting on Monday, November 3, from 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM at the Maple Valley fire station (SE corner of intersection of SE 231st St & SR-169).

All members of the public are invited to attend. During the Public Comment period at the start of each meeting, members of the public can address the Area Council on any local issue. 

Current News

Transportation Forum

The three Unincorporated Rural Area Councils (Greater Maple Valley, Four Creeks, and Upper Bear Creek) hosted a special meeting with our local State Legislators from Districts 5, 11, 31, 41, 45, and 47 on Tuesday, September 16, at 7:00 PM in Issaquah. King County Council members from Council Districts 3 and 9 and King County Department of Transportation officials also participated.

Four Issue/Solution Papers are available:

Annexation Debt Transfer
Adequacy of Transportation Concurrency
Assessing Requirements Accurately
Usage/Funding Imbalance

A summary of the meeting is also available.

John Henry Mine

On May 12, 2014, the Area Council submitted detailed comments to the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) on the requested re-opening of the John Henry Mine. Our Natural Resources/Parks Committee conducted a detailed review of the Environmental Assessment for a request to revise and renew a permit to continue mining at the John Henry Mine No. 1 site northeast of Black Diamond.

The company made a similar permit request in 2006, which was granted, but never acted upon. It appears the company’s request has more to do with continuing to avoid implementation of required reclamation, than any real interest in, or significant change in, economic conditions for the relatively low-grade coal produced before mining stopped in the late 1990‘s.

The Area Council identified several concerns including: water quality, surface runoff water; impacts to private wells; traffic impacts on County roads; and final site reclamation. Our comment letter recommends both a denial of the company’s request to resume mining and an immediate implementation of the required reclamation plan for the site.

Read the GMVAC’s comment letter on this issue here.

Transportation 2040 Update

On March 10, 2014, the Area Council submitted detailed comments to the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) and King County officials. The Area Council’s Transportation Committee, with the help of Four Creeks Unincorporated Area Council members, conducted a comprehensive review of the PSRC’s Transportation 2040 Update, which is developed and released every 4 years.

The PSRC is the regional planning organization for the four-county central Puget Sound region. It conducts regional planning for transportation, land use and economic development, under authority embodied in state and federal laws.

The Area Council fully supports the PSRC’s efforts to ensure our region stays on track to develop a sustainable transportation system and infrastructure to meet the needs of people and business for the long term. We find the Transportation 2040 Update provides an excellent framework to ensure the impacts of future growth on our transportation infrastructure is handled in a sustainable manner. This will ensure a good quality of life and vibrant economy. The movement to use-based revenue system makes sense and we support its implementation. However, we remain concerned with followthrough and consistency among planning, funding, and implementation.

Read GMVAC’s comment letter on this issue here.

Landsburg Mine Cleanup Plan

On December 12, 2013, the Area Council submitted comments to the State Department of Ecology (DOE) regarding its Landsburg Mine Cleanup Action Plan.

Several months were spent reviewing the Consent Decree between State and the Personal Liable Parties (PLPs) involved in the dumping of toxic materials in various mine seams in Landsburg over many years.

The plan includes groundwater treatment with infrastructure facilities at the north and south portal areas to contain, treat, and dispose of contaminated groundwater should it be detected at the Site.

However, the Area Council identified several issues to DOE. While there is monitoring, there is no specific system to resolve issues, if a fracture to the system occurs. Groundwater will be monitored-indefinitely. Indefinitely does not necessarily mean “in perpetuity.” Courts have interpreted indefinitely to mean “temporary.”

The Area Council also expressed to DOE concerns that monitoring might end and facilities to contain contaminated groundwater can fail. DOE and the PLP’s have set up a system that assumes nothing will escape the seam and migrate to private wells. PLP’s are freed, if they go out of business, as such, there appear to be no protections set in place to ensure permanent protection. This is considered a serious flaw in the plan.

Read GMVAC's comment letter on this issue here.

Master-Planned Development in Covington

On August 26, 2013, the Area Council submitted a detailed set of comments on the City of Covington’s Northern Gateway Study Hawk Property Subarea Draft Planned Action Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The Hawk Property Subarea encompasses approximately 212 acres located in the northern portion of the City of Covington. It abuts SR-18 on its northwest boundary. It contains both land within the city limits and land in unincorporated King County. The subarea directly abuts the Area Council’s southwest boundary just west of Cedar Creek Park.

Three Alternatives are under consideration: Alternative 1 or “no action” maintains the status quo--gravel pit and Tar Plant. Alternative 2 would add 1,000 homes and 680,000 sq ft of commercial development. Alternative 3 would add 1,500 homes and 850,000 sq ft of commercial development. Both Alternatives 2 and 3 would be Master Planned Developments (MPDs).

In conducting its review the Area Council tasked four of our standing committees--Flood Control/Surface Water Management (Chair: Warren Iverson); Natural Resources/Parks (Chair: Les Dawson); Growth Management (Chair: Peter Rimbos); and Transportation (Chair: Susan Harvey)--to address key aspects of the DEIS. Each committee specifically evaluated potential impacts on our constituents, as well as the mitigations proposed to alleviate such impacts.

Among several issues addressed in Area Council comments Transportation has the most impact on our constituents, yet possessed insufficient proposed mitigation.

A Final EIS was released in November 2013 that addressed some of the Area Council's concerns, but still was grossly insufficient in identifying and mitigating potential traffic impacts. A Public Hearing was held before the Covington City Council in January 2014. The Area Council provided further comments. Nevertheless, on January 28, 2014, the Covington City Council passed the Ordinance approving the development. Read GMVAC's written testimony here.

2013 Ballot and Citizens' Survey

The 2013 Ballot and Citizens' Survey mailed in February to all rural unincorporated area residences located within the Area Council's coverage area — the Tahoma School District minus the City of Maple Valley — are being received and tallied. The one-page survey includes questions on King County services, transportation, land use and permitting, and levies and taxes. Space is available for written comments. Also included is a brief ballot section for Area Council elections.

Newly elected members in all four of or Community Areas were: Rhys Sterling, Lorraine Blacklock, and Craig Duckering in Hobart; Todd Mitchell in Francis; Sue Neuner, Charles Meis, and Anne Meis in River Heights; and Craig Duckering and Rhys Sterling, who were seated in Ravensdale to fill two of its three open positions. Re-elected in the following Community Areas were: Warren Iverson in Hobart; Steve Heister and Peter Rimbos in Francis; and Susan Harvey in Ravensdale.

The Area Council expresses its thanks to all who take a moment to fill out and mail back their surveys. The Area Council has held such elections since its inception. Citizen surveys have been conducted for over 13 years to gain an understanding of citizen opinions on issues of importance to our rural area. A summary of survey responses will be posted on this website and in local newspapers. These results will also be shared with our King County and state officials. Results will be shown as percentages of total votes cast.

Click here for 2009 results.

Click here for 2013 results.

King County Unincorporated Area Roads

King County Department of Transportation (KCDOT) instituted a new “Tiered Level of Service” in 2012. With revenues projected to be insufficient to sustain the preservation and maintenance of the entire county road system, KCDOT has prioritized which roadways will be serviced to keep them in working order, while allowing other roadways to deteriorate due to lack of maintenance and preservation. As a result, the "Tiers" are:

Tier 1 — “spine” of the County road system (e.g., Issaquah-Hobart Rd.), 105 mi (7%);
Tier 2 — connectors for Tier 1 roads (e.g., Cedar Grove Rd.), 166 mi (11%);
Tier 3— highly used “local” roads (e.g., Sweeney Rd. SE), 193 mi (12%);
Tier 4 — residential “dead-end” roads, 510 mi (32%); and
Tier 5— local roads having alternate access, 590 mi (38%).

All five Tiers will be addressed when it comes to regulatory compliance and safety considerations, but only the highest tiers for preservation and maintenance. In the greater Maple Valley are,a about 60% of the unincorporated roads are Tier 4 and 5. To see a Map of the Tier classifications for all Unincorporated Area roads, click here.

Master-Planned Developments in Black Diamond

On September 20, 2010, the Black Diamond City Council voted 5-0 to pass an Ordinance approving with conditions two Master Planned Development (MPD) applications submitted by Yarrow Bay in and around the City of Black Diamond. The MPDs total 4,530 single-family and 1,520 multi-family units, for a total of 6,050 dwelling units on 691 acres, and 1,165,000 sq. ft. of commercial and office space, all on the rural/suburban fringe of our southeast corner of King County.

Hearings before the city's Hearings Examiner were held in July 2011 on Development Agreements which provide more detail by phase. These development agreement hearings included oral testimony by many members of the public, organizations, local jurisdictions, and King County government agencies. The Hearing Examiner recommended approval of the development agreements but with 24 "Implementing" conditions added, many of which were proposed by the Public and supported by the Area Council.

Using the Hearing Examiner's recommendations as a basis, the Black Diamond City Council started their development agreement Hearings with Public Testimony in October 2011. The Area Council testified on Rural Area issues. The Public requested many "Supplementary" conditions be added to the MPD Ordinance. The Development Agreements were approved in December 2011 and are currently the subject of litigation.

In September 2012, the first phase (Phase 1A) of the Villages MPD was appealed by a group of citizens. The Hearing Examiner conducted public hearings, during which Area Council members testified specifically about traffic impacts. In December 2012, the Hearing Examiner approved Phase 1A subject to a series of conditions achieved by citizens through the appeal.

The Area Council will continue to monitor the proposed MPDs and the inordinate impacts they will have on SE King County traffic.

Items of Interest

2014 Maple Valley Operating Model Train Show

The Area Council hosted its annual community-wide Operating Model Train Show on Saturday, October 18, and Sunday, October 19, at the Gracie Hansen Community Center, located at 27132 SE Ravensdale Way in Ravensdale. See 2014 Train Show.

Ravensdale Park

May 20, 2014 Groundbreaking ceremony: Left to right: Kevin Brown, King County Parks, Representative Chad Magendanz, Ravensdale Foundation representatives, Rob Nist and Scott Serpa, King County Council Member, Reagan Dunn, Senator Joe Fain, and Maple Valley Mayor, Bill Allison.

The Area Council and local stakeholder groups have actively participated with King County Parks to achieve a neighborhood friendly plan that maintains a connection to the rural community.

Ravensdale Park is bordered on the north by SE 272nd St (Kent-Kangley Rd), and on the east by the Ravensdale-Black Diamond Rd. The Gracie Hansen building, located on the grounds, is the home of the Area Council’s Annual Model Train Show each October and the hub of many sports teams in the area.

Phase 1 upgraded a baseball field and resurfaced an existing soccer field. It was completed in mid-2012.

Phase 2, in a great collaborative effort, includes ~$6 million from the City of Maple Valley, King County, the State of Washington, community fundraising, and in-kind support. The Ravensdale Park Foundation is managing the project.

The Groundbreaking ceremony for Phase 2 was held May 20, 2014 (see photo). Local residents, sports teams, and observers from all over the area witnessed this significant event. Phase 2 will add two multi-purpose fields on the west side of the park, additional parking, restrooms, a concessions stand, an open area, trails, and maintenance facility. Completion of Phase 2 is expected by Fall of 2014.

Ravensdale Community Meadow

The Ravensdale Community Meadow will provide local residents with a multi-purpose recreational area that can be enjoyed by all ages. The Meadow is being developed on the land between the Ravensdale Post Office and the Fire Station and will border on SE 272nd St (Kent-Kangley Rd) on the north and the Ravensdale-Black Diamond Rd on the east.

The Ravensdale Meadow Steering Committee, consisting of local residents, is working together with the Ravensdale Park Foundation and King County. In December 2012, a large center portion of the Meadow was cleared and graded using $50,000 provided by King County.

On August 24, 2013, over 100 volunteers participated in a work party to trim up trees surrounding the Meadow and clear rocks and small underbrush from the already cleared portion.

Currently, the steering committee is planning another work party on Saturday, July 12, 2014. Residents can utilize the summer weather to continue to trim up trees, clear underbrush and spread gravel in the parking area. When more funding is obtained, future plans call for a gravel walking path around the perimeter, a picnic area with two picnic shelters, informal sports areas, and, possibly, a community center building.

Reserve Silica

Reserve Silica's 2011-2012 attempts to re-zone its resource property to Rural Resident RA-10 has been withdrawn and the lands will retain their minerals/mining land-use designation and zoning.

Reserve Silica's requests was submitted through the 2012 Major 4-Yr Update to the King County Comprehensive Plan (KCCP). The Area Council opposed this change in both oral and written testimony to the King County Council. Instead the Area Council supported conversion from mining to forestry designation so as to be compatible with the surrounding Forest Production District zoning.

In December 2012, the King County Council, through an amendment to the KCCP, voted to allow Reserve Silica to come back to the KCCP Committee in 2013 to propose a residential clustered development "demonstration project" on up to 50 acres of their 402-acre property. If such a proposal is brought forward, it will be evaluated as part of the 2013 interim KCCP review process. The Area Council is monitoring this very closely and remains wary of such precedents being set.