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King County Council considering ordinance preventing wineries from expanding onto farmland

The King County Council was supposed to vote on an ordinance that would impact farmers and businesses, but instead of a yes or no, it’s going back to committee.

SEATTLE — After years of discussion, many wineries, breweries and distillers in King County will have to wait longer to hear their fate. 

The King County Council was supposed to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would affect wineries on unincorporated land. Instead, the council sent the ordinance back to the King County Local Services and Land Use Committee for further discussion.

Councilmember Sarah Perry said the issue is complex and has been going on for years.

The ordinance is intended to protect farmland by prohibiting wineries, breweries or distilleries from operating on land typically zoned for agriculture, Perry said in a statement. The ordinance is in response to some complaints from people who want to keep wineries outside of Woodinville from expanding due to worries they're encroaching on farmland.

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Kurt Tonnemaker with Tonnemaker Valley Farm said that King County covers so many communities that the ordinance didn't reflect Woodinville.

"For people to complain about the wineries right now, they aren't our problem," Tonnemaker said.

Daloa Dalby with Sammamish Valley Wineries said if the ordinance goes into effect, it could be potentially disruptive to many different businesses.

“It’s over. Every winery in King County would no longer be in their existing location,” Dalby said. 

According to Perry, the ordinance is about balancing urban growth and protecting rural areas. It would affect wineries outside Woodinville that don’t grow their grapes or crush and press them on their land.

“There is no clear code that says what can or can’t happen in a rural area, or we wouldn’t be here in the first place,” said Andrew Christian Ely with Eunomia Farm. He went on to say this comes from a lack of regulation in rural zones.

    

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