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King County to study three sites in an environmental review

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In 2020, King County's Solid Waste Division began a process to site a new recycling and transfer station in northeast King County to replace the aging and limited Houghton Transfer Station in Kirkland, which has been operating since the mid-1960s.

Since 2019, the King County project team has worked closely with representatives from the cities of Redmond, Woodinville, Sammamish and Kirkland, and unincorporated King County to establish the criteria that were used to narrow the list of sites to the three currently under consideration. The public also had opportunities to participate in the siting process by sharing community knowledge as well as priorities and concerns related to hosting a new transfer station.

In late April 2021, a member on the project Siting Advisory Group recommended consideration of another possible site in Woodinville next to the one currently being looked at. King County evaluated this new site and determined it warranted further consideration as a possible site to continue into environmental review.

Three sites for review in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

After considering input from a number of stakeholders that included city representatives, residents, and a community-based siting advisory group, King County has identified the following sites to study in an environmental review process under the State Environmental Policy Act:

King County is still working with its Siting Advisory Group to review the two Woodinville sites:

Only one of the Woodinville sites, along with both sites in Kirkland, will be studied in the environmental review process.

At this stage in the siting process, King County is not looking to acquire properties and would not consider doing so until after environmental review is completed.

Finding sites for essential public facilities that need to be located in the communities they serve is challenging in a region where so much development has already occurred. Finding suitable sites for a transfer station is even more challenging because the sites need to meet certain size, shape, and topographical characteristics, and they need to be located in areas with access to transportation corridors.

A number of factors need to be considered in determining which sites advance for further analysis in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), including cost, technical feasibility, transportation access, community needs and environmental considerations. All sites were evaluated using the same criteria Download PDF 150 K, and all sites have tradeoffs and benefits to consider.

  • The Woodinville parcels at 16111 Woodinville-Redmond Rd NE, Woodinville 98072 would be a suitable size and shape, they're located in close proximity to transportation corridors and other transfer facilities, and there's the right degree of sloping for ease of building. However, this site is also currently owned by a long-standing business with over 100 employees. The warehouse on-site was developed for their unique needs.  These factors need to be further understood to inform the potential impacts associated with property acquisition and business relocation should this site ultimately be selected.
  • The Woodinville parcels along the 15000 block of Woodinville-Redmond Rd NE, Woodinville 98072 are adjacent to the other Woodinville site, and are similar in size, shape and location characteristics to the other site, but would not require displacement of a single large business that would be challenging and costly to relocate.
  • The Houghton Park and Ride in Kirkland is smaller than the ideal parcel but merited further study because the Park and Ride is underutilized and the property is minimally developed, in a good location, and close to the transfer station corridor and major freeways.  However, the smaller size of this site may impact the scope of services and development costs that will need to be better understood should this site ultimately be selected.
  • The current Houghton Transfer Station in Kirkland has been serving northeast communities in King County for nearly 60 years, and King County has overall managed the impacts well as growth continued in the community. The site is in a good location, and close to the transfer station corridor and major freeways. However, the potential use of landfill space as part of the development requires more analysis to understand the environmental and financial impacts should this site ultimately be selected.

Only one of the Woodinville sites, along with both sites in Kirkland, will be studied in the environmental review process.

What's next

The environmental review process will start with "scoping" in late fall 2021, when the public will be invited to comment on the proposed siting alternatives, impacts, and potential mitigation measures to study in the EIS. King County will then prepare a Draft EIS due out for public review and comment in 2022.

King County will continue to work with property owners, near neighbors, stakeholders and community members to understand and respond to their questions and concerns around the project, and to provide opportunities for input that will ensure the new station is a good neighbor and a community asset.

Page contents

Overview of site selection process

King County is using a six-step process to guide the site selection process. This process has included engagement between the King County Solid Waste Division's project team and:

  • Representatives from the four northeast "Core Cities" of Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish, and Woodinville that began meeting in late 2019, and King County's Department of Local Services whose residents and businesses will be served by the new facility
  • Members of the community-based siting advisory group ("SAG") that began meeting in October 2020 to advise King County on how and where to site the new station and what to consider while making that decision
  • More than 3,000 community members who completed online surveys about siting the new station

In late 2019, the County's Solid Waste Division staff began a preliminary search for sites by broadly assessing the universe of potential sites in the study area. Three distinct type of criteria Download PDF 100 K were used to narrow the list of sites:

Northeast Recycling and Transfer Station site selection overview

Overview of site selection process
(enlarge imageenlarge)

  1. Pass/Fail Criteria and GIS filters to identify an initial 15-20 sites
  2. Broad Areas Site Screening Criteria to reduce from 15-20 sites to five or fewer
  3. Functional Criteria to be used to compare sites during the Focused Site Screening

Step 1: Potential Site Identification
(view siting criteria Download PDF 100 K)

  • Pass/Fail criteria that established minimum standards that must be met for potential sites to quality for further analysis were applied.
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) filters were then used to identify sites for further analysis. These GIS filters were not absolute criteria like the pass/fail criteria; they included size, zoning, proximity to major arterials, and property cost is within project budget. 
  • After applying the Pass/Fail and GIS criteria, 127 possible sites remained, based on parcel size. See list of sites:

Step 2: Broad Area Site Screening
(view siting criteria Download PDF 100 K)

  • Broad area site screening was conducted on the 127 sites. These screening criteria were developed jointly by King County and representatives from the cities of Redmond, Kirkland, Sammamish, and Woodinville, and King County's Department of Local Services.
  • The criteria included cost, site characteristics (size and shape), environmental constraints (large wetlands, steep slopes, etc.), nearby sensitive receptors and land uses (schools, parks, residences, hospitals), and considerations of potential impacts of business relocations. After reviewing each site against these criteria, a total of 15 possible sites remained: five sites in Kirkland, eight sites in Redmond, and two in Woodinville.
  • King County evaluated the 15 possible sites in more detail against the Broad Area Site Screening criteria:
  • After review, 4 possible sites were selected for Focused Site Screening:

Step 3: Focused Area Site Screening

  • Focused Site Screening was conducted on the 4 possible sites. That evaluation assessed the sites functional criteria and considered input from the Core Cities and the public. Functional criteria include site shape, size, and characteristics, city economic impact/zoning, few impacts to off-site sensitive receptors, equitable distribution of facilities, transportation, cost, and utilities.

Step 4: Comparative Evaluation

  • Technical input from the project team and community input from the Core Cities, siting advisory group, and community surveys informed King County's selection of sites to be evaluated in the environmental review process.
  • After comparative evaluation, 3 sites were selected for evaluation in environmental review

Step 5: Environmental Impact Statement - per State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requirements

Public survey results

King County asked community members to participate in two surveys about the siting process.

  • In fall 2020, community members were asked about their use of the existing Houghton Transfer Station in Kirkland, and their thoughts on impacts and benefits of a new station. See survey results here Download PDF 125 K. The Siting Advisory Group used that input to develop community criteria for evaluating the top four possible sites for the new station.
  • In winter 2021, King County announced a list of four possible sites for the new facility. Community members were asked about their knowledge of those sites and any information for King County to consider when evaluating the sites. See survey results here Download PDF 300 K. This input will help inform which two or three sites the County selects for further study in an Environmental Impact Statement.

What is a recycling & garbage transfer station?

King County recycling and garbage transfer stations provide a convenient location for residents, businesses, and hauling companies that provide curbside collection to drop off waste and recyclable materials. Garbage is consolidated at each station and brought to King County's Cedar Hills Regional Landfill. Recyclable materials are brought to private facilities and made into new products. Learn where your curbside recyclables and garbage go Download PDF 150 K.

Why is a new recycling & garbage transfer station needed?

The Houghton Transfer Station in Kirkland is one of King County's busiest transfer stations, but it offers limited recycling services, and it lacks the capacity to expand or to provide more recycling services to meet the needs of the growing population in northeast community.

Replacing the Houghton station with a larger, easy-to-use facility with more recycling options will make services more convenient and accessible and keep recyclable materials out of the landfill. Many people in northeast King County now have to drive 30 minutes or more to access some recycling services.

King County's 2019 Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan, which was adopted by 24 cities and the Washington State Department of Ecology, identified the need for a new station to replace the Houghton station.

The new station will be a modern, enclosed facility that meets the latest environmental standards and best practices

The facility will be designed to serve as a community asset and to aesthetically compliment the community in which it is located. It will feature a fully enclosed waste transfer building to control noise and odor, and provide larger and easier-to-use unloading areas to decrease customer wait times. Modern equipment will include waste compactors, which will reduce truck traffic and road impacts.

The new station will be a modern, enclosed facility that meets the latest environmental standards and best practices

The new station will provide convenient, accessible recycling services for a variety of items and materials

A new station will provide convenient, accessible recycling services for metal, appliances, yard waste, wood, cardboard, glass, paper, plastics, and other items

Recycling services will include:

  • Metals
  • Applicances
  • Yard waste
  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Paper
  • Plastics
  • Other items

Proposed project schedule
(For more detail, see project schedule)

Help shape decision making

The location of the new station has not been determined yet. King County's Solid Waste Division project team is working with the community to identify and evaluate possible sites. Due to COVID-19, we are not currently hosting in-person meetings or events. However, we remain committed to keeping the community informed and involved in the siting process.

We want to involve traditionally underrepresented and underserved communities, businesses, neighbors, Tribes, cities, school districts, environmental groups, and others to understand their values, concerns, insights and ideas about the siting, design, construction, and operation of a new station.

King County is also working closely with the cities of Kirkland, Redmond, Woodinville, Sammamish and unincorporated King County to identify and consider potential sites for the new station.

After carefully weighing technical requirements, environmental considerations, costs, and community input, King County will make a decision on the selected site by early 2023.

Stay informed, stay involved

Siting Advisory Group

In fall 2020, the project team recruited community representatives for the Siting Advisory Group (SAG), a community-based group that advises King County on how and where to site the new station and what to consider while making that decision. To ensure wider representation, the SAG is comprised of both appointed and at-large seats. Appointed seats were held for specific interests and organizations, and at-large seats were filled by community members through an application process. The SAG has 25 members Download PDF 125 K.

Members of the SAG meet regularly to learn about the siting process and provide their insights to the County. SAG members are expected to share information about the process with their communities. SAG members listen to community concerns and hopes and share them with the County throughout the site selection process.

SAG meetings are open to members of the public, who can observe and make comments to the group at each meeting. Due to Covid-19, all meetings are currently planned to be held virtually. Instructions for accessing SAG meetings will be posted here.

See Project schedule for list of SAG meeting dates. All SAG meetings will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Meeting notes will be posted on this website after each meeting.

Project library
(additional materials coming soon)

Project schedule

  Updated March 2021 (subject to change)

Date Actions/events/public engagement
Sept - Oct 2020 Recruit community members for Siting Advisory Group
Oct. 14, 2020 Siting Advisory Group kick-off meeting – welcomed advisory group members, provided an overview of the solid waste system and siting process. Discussed community values.
Oct. 28, 2020 Siting Advisory Group Meeting #1 – reviewed top 15 sites and considerations for screening the sites.
Oct 30 - Nov 20, 2020 Fall 2020 public survey - survey to identify knowledge of the project, use of the current facility, and their views on the impacts and benefits of siting a new facility.
Nov. 18, 2020 Siting Advisory Group Meeting #2 – reviewed community input from fall 2020 public survey and developed community criteria and scoring measures.
Dec. 16, 2020 Siting Advisory Group Meeting #3 – finalized community criteria and scoring measures, introduced to criteria weighting.
Jan. 20 - Feb. 18, 2021 Winter 2021 public survey (results to be posted soon) – survey to provide information on top 4 sites and prioritize community criteria
Feb. 3, 2021 Siting Advisory Group Meeting #4 – developed criteria weighting, reviewed top 4 sites and preliminary scoring of sites.
March 17, 2021 Siting Advisory Group Meeting #5 – review community input from winter 2021 public survey, finalize weighting and scoring, rank order of top 4 sites.
March 31, 2021 King County identifies three sites to study in an environmental review
April 28, 2021 Siting Advisory Group Meeting #6 – overview of County-selected sites and upcoming environmental review.
Aug/Sept 2021 Begin environmental review process. Seek public input on what to study in environmental review ("Scoping" public comment period)
Aug 9, 2021 Siting Advisory Group Meeting #7 – apply community criteria to evaluate potential new site
Summer 2022 Issue Draft Environmental Impact Statement and seek public input
Summer 2022 Siting Advisory Group Meeting #8 – provide input on Draft Environmental Impact Statement
Late 2022 Site for new station is selected
Late 2022-early 2023 Property acquisition
Early 2023-late 2025 Facility design and permitting
Late 2025 – Late 2027 Construction
Late 2027 Facility opens to the public

Project contacts

If you have questions or comments about the project, please contact the project manager or call the Solid Waste Division.

Project manager

Margaret Bay email the Northeast Recycling & Transfer Station project – Project manager
King County Solid Waste Division
Telephone: 206-263-5851, TTY Relay: 711

King County Solid Waste Division
Telephone: 206-477-4466, TTY Relay: 711

Contact Us

 Call: 206-477-4466

TTY Relay: 711

King County Solid Waste Division mission: Waste Prevention, Resource Recovery, Waste Disposal