Stealing Farmlands in Snohomish County

Snohomish County Coucilman, Dave Somers, has posted at The Left Shue about a recent vote by that body that will allow the annexation of what should be protected farmland for commercial use by the City of Arlington.

In the post, Somers says, "In 2005, the County Council voted to expand the Arlington urban growth area (UGA) to include 5 acres of the Foster dairy. This was just one of a long string of attempts by the Council over the years to turn farm land into commercial enterprises - the most notorious of these is the ongoing push to turn farm land into a new car lot for auto dealer Dwayne Lane. Time and time again, the County has been told by the Hearings Board and the courts that this is illegal. The Growth Management Act requires farm land to be designated and then protected. Paving over farm land for a car dealership is not protecting it."

Apparently the two Republicans (Koster and Nelson) and the one DINO (Sievers) on the County Council have determined that they are above the law: "The Hearings Board found in September that the County was out of compliance with the Growth Management Act and ordered it to return the farm land to rural status. The County was given until January 18th, 2007 to comply with this order. The Council's action on Wednesday (1/10/07) was in direct violation of this order - a virtual one finger salute to the Hearings Board and the law."

Councilman Somers points out that Futurewise is likely to be back in court over this recent action and in an email action alert sent out by Kristin Kelly (Snohomish County Program Director for Futurewise) and posted by me to the comments, that will indeed be their next course of action. In addition, both Somers and Kelly suggest that citizens of Snohomish County contact the Boundary Review Board Chair, Mark Wolken, to request an immediate hearing on this violation of Growth Management Board's order. You may contact Wolken at:Mark Wolken
and Associates, 2903 Hewitt Avenue, Everett, WA 98201, phone # 425-252-0320

via the Boundary Review contact number: 425-388-3445

Chad (The Left) Shue

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I spoke with Marsha Carlsen, Chief Clerk of the Washington State Boundary Review Board for Snohomish County (BRB) today. I include my notes from that conversation, immediately below. My overall impression from the conversation is that she feels people are calling the wrong person -- that Mr. Wolken's decision (which he's probably making today) has little overall impact on the case.

I emailed my notes on our conversation to her before publishing so she could correct them. She replied with an email, which I will reproduce in my next comment.

My notes from 1/16/07 conversation with Marsha Carlsen
Ms. Carlsen said that the recent vote of the Snohomish County Council is a separate legal matter from the matter under consideration by Mr. Wolken right now.

What Mr. Wolken is now considering is a request by the city of Arlington that the BRB waive its review of Arlington's annexation of the Foster farmland.

Arlington is asking for the waiver under RCW 36.93.110, which states such a waiver can be granted if a proposal involves an area less than 10 acres and less than $2 million in assessed valuation.

If the waiver is granted - and today is probably the day Mr. Wolken will make his decision - then the annexation will go through and the Foster farmland, which has "technically" (she said) been within the urban growth boundary since 2005, will probably permanently remain zoned as being urban.

I believe that Ms. Carlsen's reference to the "technical" status of the farmland as urban is an acknowledgment of the fact, as Mr. Somers noted, that the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Act Hearings Board (CPSGMAHB) earlier advised the Snohomish County Council that their decision to place this land within the urban boundaries was not legal and that this entity remanded the matter back to them to fix it.

In other words, and this is my interpretation, not Ms. Carlsen's characterization, the technical status of this land as urban is illegal.

But it is this illegal status that guides current legal actions, because we are "technically" within the window of time that the CPSGMAHB gave the Snohomish County Council to reverse its illegal act.

I asked if Mr. Wolken can consider this larger context in the decision whether to waive the BRB review of Arlington's annexation request. Can he consider the fact that the inclusion of this agricultural area within the urban boundary was adjudged not legal in the first place? She answered she cannot speak for Mr. Wolken, but that he is not legally precluded from considering that.

However, even if the waiver is not granted, she said, there is still an additional legal matter to resolve. By February 5 (45 days from December 20, when the City of Arlington first filed the annexation request), a jurisdiction - in this case that would be the Snohomish County Council - must request that the BRB have jurisdiction over the foster farm area in the matter of its zoning. If it does not, then the window of time for the BRB to review the zoning itself will be passed.

Clearly, the Snohomish County Council majority is determined to erase the agricultural use of this land so it can be developed. So that body will not be asking the BRB to take jurisdiction over this matter.

This understanding I ended up with after speaking with Ms. Carlsen makes it appear that Mr. Wolken's decision on the waiver is not all that important. My reading of Mr. Somer's account, leads me to believe the situation is more complex, that the decision on the waiver actually is important. Perhaps this is where the legal suits that are being contemplated will come in.

by noemie maxwell on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 02:48:15 PM PST

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Thanks for giving me an opportunity to review your posting.

The annexation proposal is for 7.39 acres. Individuals cannot invoke the Board's jurisdiction. Please refer to RCW 36.93.100 for who can invoke. The Board cannot invoke their own jurisdiction, so it won't do any good to have folks contacting the BRB or Mark Wolken. Additionally, if the Board's jurisdiction is invoked, it would be hearing matters pertinent to the annexation proposal, not necessarily the "violation of the Growth Management Board's order."

If the BRB's jurisdiction is invoked, they would primarily be considering the statutes in RCW 36.93.170 and 36.93.180. Below you will find a statement prepared by Mr. Wolken that I have been sending to individuals who e-mail the BRB on this issue.

Under State Law, the Chair has the discretion to determine review is not necessary, BUT, that does not mean the Chair has the authority to invoke jurisdiction or otherwise call a hearing. The provisions for invoking jurisdiction are found in RCW 36.93.100. The options would be a government unit that allowed under the law (which would appear to be the County, City, and the Fire District-although it seems unlikely any of those would do so); or a petition by 5% of the registered voters living within 1/4 mile of the annexation area AND not residing in the jurisdiction proposing the annexation (Arlington). If such a petition is received it would still require a majority of the Board to agree to then invoke jurisdiction."

Marsha Carlsen
Chief Clerk of the Board
Washington State Boundary Review Board for Snohomish County"



Just a few more thoughts - I don't believe I said that Mr. Wolken "can" consider the GMHB decision, but rather that he "may" take this into consideration. I am unable to state with any certainty what is in Mr. Wolken's mind as he reviews the waiver request. The BRB does not review zoning issues. They are precluded from making land use decisions."

by noemie maxwell on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 02:50:21 PM PST

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My organization is a good creator by using a major fire meant for posting essays. As well as posting my best essays meant for interesting however , We'd these days choose to prepare vendor. How one can order  dissertation info here or simply as a minimum place it all towards a important provider?

by MaxAlice on Mon Jun 06, 2016 at 07:59:56 AM PST

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