April 20, 1998
City moves to appeal Grace annexation denial
by Andrew Walgamott
WOODINVILLE--The Grace annexation denial will be appealed. Last week, the Woodinville City Council directed its attorney to file a complaint in Snohomish County Superior Court regarding the state Boundary Review Board (BRB) for Snohomish County's findings in denying the Grace annexation. Doing so starts the process of going to court, according to City Attorney Dawn Findlay. Terry Jarvis, a Grace property owner, said Gracesonians were "100 percent behind Woodinville. We are convinced the BRB made an error. And we are convinced Woodinville will prevail."
In published findings, the BRB said the annexation wouldn't further the preservation of logical service areas. It was the only one of nine objectives that the BRB ruled unfavorably towards Woodinville on. Four factors were found inapplicable, three were found to be grudgingly "slightly furthered" by the annexation and the BRB split three ways on another.
Findlay said she thought the city had a strong case. "We feel confident." Mayor Don Brocha, who noted a pair of recent BRB decisions which were remanded, said, "Looking at their past track record, it indicates their decision was not as well thought out as it should be."
The city may also be in a good position for an appeal. "We always operated with the contingency in the back of our minds that we'd end up in court," City Manager Roy Rainey said. He was careful to note though, that negotiations on transitional services had been done in "good faith." The Snohomish County Council had opposed the annexation because those agreements weren't worked out. The Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney's office was awaiting the complaint before commenting.
Appeal estimated at $5-$10K
Jarvis and Richard Waterman both urged the City Council to appeal last week. Waterman, who has alluded that Eagle Hardware and Garden may buy property he owns near the intersection of state routes 522 and 9, said it would be a "total mistake" for the city to cut its losses and let the annexation drop. So far, the city has spent $122,000 arranging the deal. Findlay told the council an appeal would cost between $5,000 and $10,000, which Councilmember Bob Miller termed "low-cost."
The city will appeal based on the existing record, Rainey said. He called annexing Grace a good business decision, saying expenses could be recovered in six months in property taxes, and then would continue in perpetuity. "From a business standpoint, that's a damn good investment," he said. The city estimates it would gain $216,000 a year in property taxes.
Still, at least one councilmember wants to know how much it would cost the city to make necessary infrastructure improvements in Grace if the city were to annex. "I don't feel I have enough information to make a well informed decision yet," Councilwoman Marsha Engel said.