Proposal: Allow some tasting rooms, wineries in rural Sammamish Valley

King County is recommending some lands in the Sammamish Valley currently zoned rural be allowed to have tasting rooms, wineries and distilleries. The existing Agricultural Production District would remain protected and off-limits to retail uses, though.

In an effort to balance support of the flourishing wine-tourism industry in the Sammamish River Valley with protections for agricultural lands, King County has proposed allowing some tasting rooms and some wineries, distilleries and breweries on land currently zoned rural.

The Sammamish Valley Agricultural Production District, almost 1,100 acres of land designated for only agricultural uses, would remain protected from development and the county would commit to securing additional development rights for properties within the district that aren’t already part of its farmland-preservation program.

“We want to make sure we’re nurturing the wine industry at the same time we’re protecting areas we want to protect,” said Diane Carlson, director of regional initiatives for Metropolitan King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The county issued its preliminary recommendations Thursday after a lengthy wine-industry study from a consultant and a stakeholder group that concluded the research in September. The public will have until June 8 to comment on the recommendations before they are finalized and forwarded to the County Council for action.

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The county has proposed creating two categories of wineries, breweries and distilleries that would be allowed in areas now zoned rural. Less intensive operations would be allowed on lots from 2.5 acres to 5 acres, with more intensive uses allowed on larger lots with direct access to arterials.

Additionally, the county would create two overlay zones as pilot projects. One would allow 10 properties immediately east of Woodinville currently zoned rural to develop stand-alone tasting rooms…

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