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City says 'no' to possible county waste transfer station at foot of West Hill

Jon Lindenauer was among those West Hill residents who opposed the proposed north Auburn site for a new waste transfer station.  - Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter
Jon Lindenauer was among those West Hill residents who opposed the proposed north Auburn site for a new waste transfer station.
— image credit: Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter

It's official — the City of Auburn wants no part of the waste transfer station that King County is considering building on an undeveloped, soggy, weed-wild parcel of land off West Valley Highway at the foot of West Hill.

That much the City Council settled Monday night before a chamber room packed with West Hill residents and others who loathe the idea of a transfer station there.

Opponents had earlier described to the council what a problem it would be to let King County build an $80 million transfer station on the site just north of the 37th Street Northwest-West Valley Highway intersection.

Cameron Randall, who lives on South 298th Place, explained why it made no sense to him.

"This site should be preserved as part critical Mill (Creek) wetlands, just as you've done ... on Main Street (with) The Auburn Environmental Park. ... The property should be removed from the Innovative Partnership Zone and preserved as a wetland. For the record, I support the initiatives of the IPZ, but not having this property there. It is confusing as to how this was ever included in the IPZ."

Now Auburn's thumbs-down goes to King County.

King County's Solid Waste Division is scouting the county's south end for land where it can build a new station to replace the nearly 50-year-old, outdated, outmoded transfer station in Algona when it closes.

The 15-acre site at 28721 W. Valley Highway emerged last fall as the county’s surprise, preferred alternative. Of several sites earlier under consideration within city limits, only the one east of the mall is still on the county’s list.

King County will make its final decision in 2014.

Opponents, who had hoped for an unequivocal haymaker of a no, got some but not all of what they wanted.

While the City Council struck a number of confusing "whereases" and "wherefores," at the beginning of the resolution opposing the site, it left intact language that would leave West Hill residents responsible for mitigating stormwater drainage onto the parcel.

The idea for keeping that language, said Councilmember Rich Wagner, was to preserve the City's options should King County choose the site after all.

Councilmembers did, however, strike the first four paragraphs of the resolution, a succession of "whereases and "wherefores," that roused general suspicion that the City, and perhaps its lawyers, was trying to pull a fast one on them.

"I thought the stormwater drainage reference was a distraction from the ordinance's main purpose, which was to oppose the siting," said West Hill resident Jon Lindenauer. "It was a compromise, but I think, all in all, they did take into consideration many of changes we gave them, so it was a positive for our group. We got a resolution from the City opposing the north Auburn site."

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