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Published: Tuesday, June 28, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Bothell annexation may go to voters

The Boundary Review Board agrees that the city's plan to add more than 22,000 residents should go on the ballot, but providing emergency services is still in contention.

EVERETT -- A massive northward expansion of Bothell's city limits is on track to appear on November's ballot.
Snohomish County's Boundary Review Board voted unanimously Monday night to approve of the city's plans to accommodate more than 22,000 new people. While the four board members agreed that it's time to put th e issue to a public vote, they noted that there's still work to be done to provide adequate fire and emergency medical services to the newly annexed area.
"I'm delighted that this citizen-led initiative finally gets to see the light of day," said Bob Stowe, Bothell's city manager.
The decision followed at three-hour hearing at the county campus in Everett.
City leaders hope to put the issue on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.
The review board's decision was cheered by a large contingent of people from unincorporated Snohomish County who want to join the city. Many have worked for a decade to make the annexation happen.
"What I'm asking you to do is to be reasonable and to let us vote on this," Nancy Dawson, who lives near the cities of Brier and Kenmore, told the board.
There was strong opposition, however, from Fire District 1, which argued that Bothell has failed to prepare to take over firefighting and medic services in its territory.
"We're certainly disappointed by the decision and hope that the city will follow through with the level of service that it's promising, because that has been the core of our objection," District 1 Commissioner Millie Judge said.
Bothell, first incorporated in 1909, is one of the few cities in Washington that straddles two counties. It added the bulk of its territory north of the King-Snohomish county line when it added six square miles of the Canyon Park area in 1992.
These days, Bothell's population of 33,505 is split more or less evenly between the two counties. Adding 22,000 people north of the county line would make it a majority Snohomish County city.
Bothell also is moving to annex unincorporated areas in King County where about 5,000 people live. That would be done through agreements, rather than at the ballot box.
If all of the proposed annexations go forward, the city would grow to be Washington's 15th largest city, up from No. 32 now.
The areas would officially merge with the city some time between Aug. 1, 2012 and Jan. 1, 2013. The 3,600-acre addition north of the county line would take in almost the entire area where Snohomish County has said the city can expand.
In 2009, people living in unincorporated Snohomish County failed to join Bothell through a petition drive. That effort stumbled at the Boundary Review Board over objections from Snohomish County Fire Districts 1 and 7. Snohomish County, at the time, also opposed the annexation because King County wanted to control all of Bothell's solid waste --even trash generated in Snohomish County-- along with the revenue associated with it.
Recently, the two counties and Bothell signed agreements to keep the solid waste service as is. King County will keep handling trash from the Canyon Park area in Snohomish County.
The city and Fire District 7 last week agreed to a transition plan for the east side of the annexation area. The plan would have the city contracting with the district in 2013 for fire and emergency medical services. Afterward, the two agencies would alternately staff a fire station on the border of the new city limits.
The city of Bothell and Snohomish County Fire District 1, on the other hand, have been unable to compromise on service for the western portion of the annexation area. That's despite a year of talks.
A sticking point has been whether Bothell will staff and operate District 1's Fire Station 22 on Damson Road. The station's service area includes land from Locust Way and Highway 524 down to Bothell city limits.
Bothell's plan calls for hiring 12 firefighter-EMTs to staff the station with three-person shifts around the clock. District 1 leaders have said that isn't enough.
District 1 is Snohomish County's largest fire district, serving unincorporated areas south of Everett. It also contracts for fire service with Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Brier and Woodway.
The piece of land in District 1 that's up for annexation brings in $1.9 million in property tax revenue each year -- 6 percent of the fire district's annual revenue.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » BothellSnohomish County government

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