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Marysville City Council unanimously approves LID for 156th St. overpass

MARYSVILLE - The Marysville City Council voted unanimously Sept. 20 to approve the formation of a Local Improvement District to help fund the construction of an overpass at 156th Street NE, but the citizens who testified during the Council's public hearing were far more divided in their opinions.

Bond counsel Hugh Spitzer explained that, as part of LIDs, property owners whose property values increase as a direct result of public improvements pay special assessments to help fund those public improvements. He added that property owners could pay these special assessments over the course of 20 years, plus a relatively low rate of interest. Shawn Smith, project manager for the city of Marysville, elaborated that city officials have received petitions from 64 percent of property owners in the Smokey Point and Twin Lakes areas based on acreage, and 51 percent based on property assessment, requesting the formation of such a LID to pay for the overpass.

The proposed LID's 1,587 acres would cover the railroad tracks on the west side of I-5 and be bounded by 58th Avenue on the east side of I-5, with a northern boundary roughly along 164th Street NE and a southern boundary reaching down to 140th Street NE on the east side of I-5. Most of the property owners in that area who testified Sept. 20 expressed support for an overpass, but many of those nonetheless voiced concerns about forming a LID to fund it.

"It's been a long time coming," said Joel Hylback, a Smokey Point property owner. "Nothing is perfect, and it's not an easy decision, but I'd urge you to move forward on this."

"The timing is right," said fellow Smokey Point property owner Butch Kvamme, who described the overpass as important to Marysville's residential and commercial futures, as well as to alleviating the burden of traffic on 172nd Street NE on the east side of I-5. Jim Tosti, who owns 400 acres in the LID area, echoed Kvamme's reasons for calling for the Council to approve the formation of a LID.

On the other side of the debate, Smokey Point industrial park owner Thom Prichard noted that many of his tenants are already struggling to make their rent payments without the added costs that would be created by requiring him to pay special assessments, and cited two vacancies that he cannot fill. Ken Copenhaver and Dennis Quinn agreed on the need for an overpass, but both opposed the proposed LID on the grounds that it would be "unfair" to its residents to charge them more for a public improvement that everyone would be free to use.

"Are we going to have a roadblock to keep everyone else out?" asked Copenhaver, who lives on 150th Place NE, to laughter from fellow property owners.

"Nobody talked to me or my wife about this petition," said Quinn, who lives on 152nd Street NE, whose complaint would be echoed by a number of other property owners. "What are the boundaries of this area? Everybody that I've talked to knows nothing about it."

City Public Works Director Kevin Nielsen invited any interested parties to come to the city's interim Community Development office, at 601 Delta Ave. to view the petitions and the mapped boundaries of the LID.

Lakewood Costco General Manager Gene Dunlap endorsed the LID, while JoAnn DeLazzari, who lives west of Costco, admitted that she was "afraid of the bureaucracy" that a LID would create.

"If this was for a bridge with access to the freeway, I would help you raise the money myself," DeLazzari said.

Nielsen warned that such a bridge could take years to create, and deemed the overpass a good interim step toward that goal in the meantime. When Council member John Soriano asked if plans for the overpass were time-sensitive, Nielsen noted that one advantage of the current recession is that construction costs are running as low as 50 percent below their estimates.

"I've heard several property owners say this would benefit them, and the general citizens would be paying for half of it, so I'm in favor of it," said Council member Jeff Seibert, who moved to adopt the ordinance forming the LID.

"I know there's heartburn about these payments," said Council member Donna Wright, who seconded Seibert's motion to adopt the ordinance, which was approved by a 6-0 vote. "This is not going to happen overnight, though. There will still be opportunities for input from all of you."

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