MAY 5, 1997

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Local News

Grace annexation opportunity

Grace annexation by Andrew Walgamott, staff reporter
With the death of two state house bills, and reworking of the Urban Growth Boundary, the opportunity for Grace to join Woodinville has come up again. A new annexation petition will be circulating among businesses and residents of Grace, the regional name for the industrial strip along State Routes 522 and 9 in south Snohomish County.
   Grace's annexation would be limited to the Maltby Urban Growth Area (UGA), according to Bonnie Collins, Chief Clerk of the Snohomish County Boundary Review Board. The Maltby UGA is a county-drawn line that extends from the King-Snohomish County Line, along SR-522 to the Maltby area, around the industrial area in the corridor. Annexation is not allowed outside of the UGA, according to Collins.
   The Maltby UGA region seems to be divided topographically into two provinces, with the hinge roughly a quarter mile east of SR-9, with the Maltby area being on top of a plateau and Grace in the Little Bear Creek valley. The Wellington Hills Golf Course is not included in the UGA.
   To begin the annexation process, residents and business owners in Grace need to circulate a petition that is signed by at least 10 percent of the residents and owners. After that, a petition requiring 60 percent of the assessed value of the area must be signed, according to Collins. Supporters would then submit the petition to the City of Woodinville. If the city accepted the petition, the city would then send it to the Snohomish County Boundary Review Board (BRB) with a notice of intention. Once filed, there would be a 45-day review period where 5 percent of the value or 5 percent of the property owners, or a government entity, such as a fire district, could file for a review. If a request for a review was filed, there would be a public hearing. The BRB will have 120 days from filing to make their decision, according to Collins.
   "This area has overwhelming support to be included in city of Woodinville," said Terry Jarvis, owner of Vintage Auto Parts, also known as the mayor of the mythical city of Grace. He added that annexation petitions would be kept to the UGA. "The Grace annexation is strictly the industrial business area. This has nothing to do with the residential area" bordering the UGA to the west and east, he said. Boundaries of the Grace annexation would be drawn by petition signers and the Woodinville city council.
   According to Woodinville's Planning Director Ray Sturtz, a potential annexation in the Grace area would help the city better determine long-range planning. "It helps to define our boundary once and for all, our northern boundary so we can move on with our planning," Sturtz said.
   When asked a potential benefit of acquiring the Grace area, Sturtz pointed to employment. "One of the main things we look at in the Comprehensive Plan is jobs." He said that in the next 20 years, more than 2,000 new jobs will be created in the greater Grace area.
   Woodinville councilperson Lucy DeYoung said Grace had an "assessed valuation of $60 million." Figuring a tax rate of $1.60 per thousand, and sales tax, she said a study had shown that "Grace will more than pay for itself." She also said it would be a good chance for Woodinville to see what Snohomish County has to offer in the way of contracted services. House bills 1948 and 1950, aimed at Woodinville, Grace, and Maltby, died during the recent legislative session. HB 1948 would have put a two-year moratorium on cross-county annexations. HB 1950 would have allowed Maltby to incorporate.
   Rep. Dave Schmidt (R-Bothell), who was prime sponsor of the bills, had expressed concern about Woodinville's ambitions northward. "I wanted originally to put a hold on Woodinville's annexation of Grace," Schmidt said. After a Senate/House conference committee meeting that included DeYoung and Sturtz, Schmidt said questions he'd had about services and flight of revenue from the South Snohomish County area were answered.
   "It's probably in the best interests of both parties to let Woodinville take Grace," Schmidt said.
   As for Maltby, it seems safe on top of the hill. Lack of access between Grace and Maltby, the grade up the hill from Grace being too much for sewers, and the separate identity between the Maltby and Woodinville will keep the two at arm's length.
   "It would be very difficult to provide services to Maltby," DeYoung said. "We can't annex Maltby unless Maltby wants to annex to Woodinville."
   Jarvis estimated that all petitions, reviews, and rulings would be done by December. "We expect it'll be done by the end of the year."
   For more information on petitions, call Ted Johns at 483-5544.