District to surplus, sell Highway 530 property once planned for high school

ARLINGTON – The Arlington School District is selling a 180-acre property on Highway 530 that at one time had been planned for a future high school, but has since become known more for grazing dairy cows and mineral reserves below ground.

The property located 1.5 miles northeast of city limits at 9102 Highway 530 is the largest non-school parcel in the district’s undeveloped asset inventory.

The school board Sept. 23 passed a resolution surplusing the property, authorizing seller negotiations and determining the fair market value price for potential suitors.

1n 1997, the land was purchased by the school district for $3.1 million for a new high school, which was built 10 years later along Highway 9 south of town, closer to where student populations were growing the most.

School board member Jeff Huleatt said when the district originally bought the property there were some surmountable obstacles.

However, he said, “Conditions and regulations have changed, and become much more formidable. It became more challenging to be a school site.”

The biggest strike came when state Growth Management Act revisions resulted in limiting the construction of new school facilities outside Urban Growth Areas. The Highway 530 site is outside of Arlington’s UGA, and without available water and service or plans to extend electric or natural gas service, the property’s usefulness to the district dwindled, said Brian Lewis, executive director of operations.

The property, which contains several structures in poor condition, is zoned for one residence per five acres, while a Mineral Resources Overlay preserves and limits mineral activity such sand and gravel removal. The overlay further made high-intensity development such as a school unlikely.

The district’s Facilities Advisory Committee recommended in 2014 that the district take steps to surplus and sell the site, Lewis said. The 2018 assessed value of the property is $695,700.

In October 2016, district staff entered a Request for Letters of Interest process to gather proposals from parties interested in buying the Highway 530 site. District staff, an evaluation committee and real estate consultant Long Bay Enterprises in Edmonds reviewed the requests and evaluated the presence of mineral reserves.

Two respondents were selected to continue the process, but one later withdrew, Lewis said.

Lewis said in order to enter negotiations with the remaining potential buyer, the school board needed to declare the property surplus and authorize an appraisal to establish fair market value.

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Sue Weiss, 60
                                Work: Retired accountant, City Council
                                Education: Associates degree in Respiratory Therapy, Certificate of Municipal Leadership through Association of Wash. Cities.
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