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City, County councils vote to authorize annexation for Marysville
MARYSVILLE — Marysville City Council member Lee Phillips proved to be the lone dissenting vote, when the City Council and the Snohomish County Council voted July 13 to authorize Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall to sign the interlocal agreement between the city and the county, providing the annexation to the city of the unincorporated urban growth area in roughly the center of Marysville.
City Council member Jeff Vaughan and County Council member Mike Cooper both had excused absences from the joint City and County council meeting, but aside from Phillips, all the other council members in attendance voted in favor of the annexation. Support for the annexation was far from universal at the council meeting, however, as a number of residents of the currently unincorporated area spoke out against its annexation into the city.
Bruce Steinmer lives on 53rd Drive NE, and noted differences between the water and sewer rates listed in promotional literature for the city, compared to the rates that he's paid, since his area already has city utilities. His area does not have city garbage service, though, and the fact that he won't be receiving it until seven years after the annexation of his area was a sore spot for him.
"We didn't want to live in the city, but we're being forced to," Steinmer said, during the public comment portion of the meeting's public hearing. "You shouldn't annex us until you can do something as simple as give us garbage service."
City of Marysville Chief Administrative Officer Mary Swenson explained that the delay in garbage service is actually part of the Revised Code of Washington, rather than anything governed by the city. City Public Works Director Kevin Nielsen added later that overage charges are not uncommon for the city's flat-rate utility fees, which he believes likely accounts for the discrepancies Steinmer noted.
Lynn Eshleman, of Pacific Ridge Homes, and Mike Pattison, of the Master Builders Association, both expressed concerns about having to resubmit building permits to the city that had already been submitted to the county, and advocated in favor of simply transferring the permits rather than submitting them for another review, especially since the city and the county use similar standards. Both Eshleman and Pattison cited the time, effort and financial costs of such "duplicative work."
City Community Development Director Gloria Hirashima later explained that the interlocal agreement does provide for transfers of existing permits, but not future ones, noting that existing county permits would continue to be honored by the city.
Lisa and Jerry DeGreave both live in the Timberbrook neighborhood of the currently unincorporated area, and they echoed Steinmer's sentiment that the annexation "shouldn't be forced down our throats." Lisa DeGreave pointed out that she'd bought her home in its current area in order to remain outside the city limits, and she argued against having to pay for garbage service when she recycles and disposes of trash on her own, without the aid of Waste Management. Jerry DeGreave recalled the number of "ridiculous" regulations that had cropped up at a previous home, whose likewise unincorporated area had also been annexed by a city.
"Some regulations are reasonable and necessary, but I don't want too many of them," Jerry DeGreave said. "I don't like big government."
Phillips drew applause from several attendees when he framed his objection to the evening's annexation vote on the grounds of government representation. He suggested an election to decide the annexation instead, describing it as more consistent with the founding purpose of American government.
"There's going to be a huge trust issue if we tell these people that they're not allowed to make this decision," Phillips said. "We're telling them who will govern them, and forcing that on them."
Fellow City Council members Jeff Seibert and John Nehring both followed by expressing their support for the annexation, with Seibert asserting that "we've had two or three years to work out these issues."
The public hearing represented a stark contrast from the open house held earlier that day, also in the City Council Chambers, during which only one attendee spoke out strongly against the annexation, while others merely asked questions about how various aspects of the annexation might affect them.
The man who spoke out against annexation declined to identify himself, to The Marysville Globe or to his fellow attendees, but he asserted that the city would be taking on "an unfunded liability" by accepting the county roads in the currently unincorporated area, in their current condition. While the man believes that tax revenues will be insufficient to pay for needed maintenance and improvements to many of these roads, Nielsen noted that the city is already "hugely invested" in many of those roads, simply due to the utilities that it owns and maintains under those roads. Nielsen further acknowledged some wear and tear on a number of the roads, but added that the city judges the condition of the roads based on the same averaging index as the county, "which is what I mean when I say that they don't look bad."
As for other open house attendees, Patrick Snowden was curious about what size of structure would require a building permit within the city limits — more than 120 square feet — and was reassured by Hirashima that structures permitted by the county would be grandfathered by the city.
Several residents of the unincorporated area asked for clarification on the city's enforcement of fireworks laws, to which Marysville Police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux responded by acknowledging that enforcement can be "hit or miss," but is aided by increased police presences on holidays such as the Fourth of July, as well as the fact that police officers can hand out civil infractions and fines for the illegal use of fireworks.
Russell Carter inquired about the average time required for permits, which Hirashima told him could take a week for minor additions, or three weeks for a new single family home, "depending on our volume of permits at the time." Carter and his son Ken then brought up the need for drainage of "potholes and big puddles" in their unincorporated neighborhood, near Pinewood Elementary, which Nielsen suggested could be alleviated with infiltration through porous pavement.
William Pearson, a resident of 146th Street NE, noted his own neighborhood's recent problems with flooding basements and water on the street, which he attributed to nearby construction. He informed Christopher Holland, senior planner with the city, about this issue at the start of the open house, "because the county hasn't done anything about it, so the city needs to know what it's inheriting."
Snowden went on to ask about codes regarding vehicles under repair in homeowners' driveways. Hirashima described Marysville as having "a moderate code" on that score, since "we're not high-end urban." She explained that existing code is designed primarily to keep vehicles from being disassembled in front yards for months at a time, and added that storing inoperable vehicles in one's garage breaks no code.
Hirashima estimated that, once authorized, the annexation could be completed between December of this year and March of 2010, "if there are no show-stoppers."