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AUGUST 4, 1997

Local News

Grace petition drive begins

  by A.T. Walgamott
   The Woodinville City Council last week unanimously moved to allow Grace annexation proponents to circulate a petition to join the city. "You're pre-Woodinville-ites," Mayor Miller told property owners at the meeting.
   Now, owners of 60 percent of the assessed value of Grace must sign the petition and return it to the city for the council to consider annexation of the 228-acre area along State Routes 9 and 522 in south Snohomish County. The city set a preliminary zoning of Industrial over the entire area. Graceans had pushed the city to declare its zoning intentions with the area before beginning a petition.
   According to Don Fitzpatrick of Fitz Auto Parts, current Snohomish County industrial zoning allows property owners in Grace more uses for their land than Woodinville's industrial zone. City staff will begin a sub-area study for Comprehensive Plan changes and final zoning for Grace soon. Two public hearings will be held on the matter before the petition is returned to the city. Fitzpatrick said there shouldn't be much trouble finding signatures for the petition.
   Residents, all 12, and property owners in Grace have long wanted to join the city but have been blocked by the county. Last year the county designated the Maltby/Grace industrial corridor an Urban Growth Area (UGA). Annexations and incorporations can only occur in UGAs. The UGA extends from the King/Snohomish County line north generally along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad to north of Maltby.
   Another roadblock, a bill that would have prohibited cross-county annexations in UGAs, failed in the State Legislature this past session. The door for annexation now stands open.
   But then again, why should Woodinville accept Grace?
   Fitzpatrick called Grace a "ripe area for development," and said it behooved Woodinville to control its northern gateway. A 30-acre piece of property at the northern tip of Grace will soon be developed into a business park. Developers would like to build to city standards as soon as possible. Owner Lindsey Echelbarger estimated that at build-out the property could be worth $30-35 million.
   Grace currently has an assessed valuation of over $41 million, and could account for the creation of as many as 2,000 jobs over the next 20 years, according to city estimates.
   The council also directed staff to work with the county on surface water issues and adoption of an ultimate capacity designation for Woodinville-Snohomish Road south of SR 522. Ultimate capacity means that no amount of work will improve congestion on a road. The Woodinville-Snohomish Road is constrained from widening by railroad and SR 522 rights-of-way, and adjacent properties.
   Graceans want the city to adopt the county's ultimate capacity designation, which would allow for safety improvements including ditches, streetlights and a left turn lane on the road.
   The council also passed motions that would require Grace to be assessed and taxed on the same basis as city property owners. Fitzpatrick said taxes are "virtually the same" between Snohomish County and Woodinville now, though sales tax would rise from 7.6 percent to 8.6 percent after Grace joins the city.
   Grace would not be responsible for Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District benefit charges or repayment of bonds if annexed to the city.