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CARNATIONA, Wash. - The Snoqualmie Valley Farm Country and Seattle's booming South Lake Union area are two very different places. County and city officials were looking for a way to protect both identities and they found it on the golf course.

Tall Chiefs operated in Snoqualmie farm country for more than 40 years but finally went under two years ago. Developers wanted to put in a housing development.

Neighboring farmers feared their rural valley would be lost, like so many others, to urban sprawl.

These farming areas are pretty limited, they're pretty precious and you don't want to see them whittled away, said Dow Constantine/King Co. Executive

County leaders were worried too. They want to protect what open spaces they have left. So they stepped in and bought the course from the developers. But they figured out a way to make that money back.

We just reached an agreement that was approved by the City and County Councils to be able to bring the unused rights from some rural and agricultural properties into the South Lake Union neighborhood, said Constantine.

Property rights that belong to the golf course could be sold, and because there are only a limited number of property rights available in South Lake Union, eager builders would pay top dollar for them.

They can keep making taller and denser developments and the golf course will become what's valued most in the Snoqualmie Valley - a farm.

County officials say before it became the Tall Chief Golf Course, the 190-acre site was one of the Valley's first dairy farms.

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