King County identifies new top alternative site for transfer, recycle station

King County
King County's preferred alternative site for the waste transfer station is at 28721 W. Valley Highway S., northwest of the 37th Street Northwest and West Valley Highway intersection.
— image credit: Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter

King County has identified its preferred alternative for a new recycling and transfer station in South King County.

And it is neither of the two commercial sites in Auburn that had caused so much concern last fall.

According to an email that Pat McLaughlin, division director of King County's Solid Waste Division, sent to the City of Auburn last Friday, the preferred alternative is at 28721 W. Valley Highway S., northwest of the 37th Street Northwest and West Valley Highway intersection. King County records describe the site as 222,156 square feet of vacant industrial land north of Span Alaska Transportation.

Mayor Pete Lewis said Monday the site has the City's full support.

"There are things that need to be done there, but, quite frankly, there are things that have needed to be done there for a generation, and with King County (locating it) there, those things will be done," Lewis said.

King County put together a committee three years ago to examine and grade its transfer stations. Its members looked and stamped many of them "deficient." The Algona station, built in the 1960s, was dunned for lacking space for vehicles to line up, extended wait times, inability to compact garbage, absence of recycling services and other "service deficiencies."

King County's Solid Waste Transfer and Waste Management Plan then called for the Algona station's replacement.

King County's list still includes the unpopular alternative of 1380 C St. NW east of the Supermall and southwest of the Longhorn Barbecue among its top three options. The other is 35101 W. Valley Highway S. in Algona.

All of the sites will require environmental review.

Auburn's City Council last fall formally opposed both the site near the Supermall and another west of Lowe's, northwest of Fred Meyer and south of the Auburn Day Care center. The latter is no longer an alternative.

The preferred alternative site of the future transfer station is in the northern portion of Auburn's Innovative Partnership Zone or IPZ, McLaughlin noted, an area the City established in 2012 to entice economic development.

"It is the division's understanding in working with the City of Auburn that Alternative 3 has more opportunity than the other two alternatives to attract 'green' economic development, and that a recycling/transfer facility could be a key component of such development," McLaughlin wrote.

Doug Lein, Auburn's economic development director, said the owner came forward and said he would like to offer his site to King County's Solid Waste Division.

"A developer was already down the development process on the property," Lein said, "had a completed SEPA application already approved and wetland studies. There was a lot of activity already done, which would have to be done on the other locations."

Lewis said the City told King County about the site last fall.

"I think it's going to prove, as we've already seen, that everybody involved in that area sees that as a positive, as something that they are looking forward to, and as something that works out very well," Lewis said.

Even though the West Valley site is the preferred option right now, its selection is by no means a done deal.

King County, McLaughlin said, will base its final decision on several considerations, among them the results of an environmental impact statement (EIS), an economic impact analysis, consideration of equity and social justice, comments from the public, from agencies and from elected officials and the site's compatibility with regional policies. It will be subject as well to the regulatory land use permitting process of its host city, Auburn.

The public comment period on the scope of the EIS is Feb. 7-28. Those comments along with the scoping comments already received on the other two alternatives will play a role in determining the extent of the evaluation done in the EIS.

King County records list the landowner as North Creek Capital, LLC.

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