Border Battle: Tensions mount as developer files claim against LSLast week, The Herald reported that a Bellevue-based developer petitioned the state to challenge Lake Stevens’ comprehensive plan on the grounds that the city didn’t allow enough public comment when the plan was adopted last summer.
The filing is a result of the developer’s wishes to develop 370 acres just north of US-2 and just west of SR-9, an area behind the spot many locals visually associate with Department of Transportation’s sanding dump alongside the highway.
The developer, SR9/US2, LLC earlier asked Snohomish to add acreage to its urban growth area, an act that would allow the developer to move towards developing as many as 3,000 homes on the property.
While the land lies between the two cities, Lake Stevens has talked about extending towards US-2 for sometime, and with several successful annexation campaigns under its belt, the City already has a successful growth movement underway.
Another key issue in this dispute is sewer capacity. The Lake Stevens sewer district, which works hand-in-hand with the city, has the capacity and the plans to extend service to the disputed area. At this time, Snohomish does not.
I remember Council meetings over the summer where residents and Council members discussed the urgency of moving south towards US-2. With the memory of Marysville’s Whiskey Ridge take over fresh in its mind, the city is likely to fight to protect its comprehensive plan.
The City of Marysville successfully annexed Whiskey Ridge last year, taking over a large chunk of acreage populated by people who associated themselves with Lake Stevens: their kids went to Lake Stevens schools, the were serviced by Lake Stevens Fire, they shopped at Frontier Village and considered themselves Lake Stevens residents.
Months later, the unhappy residents of Whiskey Ridge are fighting Marysville tooth-and-nail. Marysville’s plans to build a major arterial through the rural area have met with stiff opposition.
As the dispute between Snohomish and Lake Stevens continues, the danger of another Whiskey Ridge scenario looms. Should the comprehensive plan be tied up in litigation for long, Lake Stevens has valuable resources tied up in litigation instead of managing growth. This may be the plan behind the filing.
In the end, the matter could be decided by the County Council. The Council could elect to add the disputed land to Lake Stevens or Snohomish, or, the Council could order the land to remain rural.
In the Herald article, the developer said that Snohomish was a more logical choice because of proximity, but an argument for Lake Stevens could easily be made based on the fact that Lake Stevens has sewer capacity and plans to grow to a city of near 50,000 by 2025, while Snohomish lacks the capacity or plans to grow.
Hopefully, the disagreement can be resolved at the bargaining table instead of the courtroom. I know Lake Stevens officials have more important things to tackle than a developer’s lawsuit and I would assume the same rings true for Snohomish. Either way this issue will warrant further attention as events unfold.
Kevin Hulten is the former Managing Editor of the Lake Stevens Journal and currently works in Olympia. Send feedback or ideas to email@example.com.