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Published: Friday, January 23, 2009, 12:01 a.m.

Control of Island Crossing goes to Arlington

In a split vote, the County Council elects not to challenge a court decision that gives control to the city and paves the way for a car lot.

ARLINGTON -- The Snoho­mish County Council won't fight further the city's annexation of Island Crossing.
In a 3-2 vote Tuesday, the council rejected a motion by Councilman Dave Somers to appeal Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair's December decision that Arlington's annexation is legal and valid.
At their meeting Tuesday evening, Arlington City Council members expressed relief at the news.
"After 18 years of struggle over this area, I'm delighted," Councilwoman Sally Lien said. "We will do our very best to make Island Crossing acceptable to everyone."
Somers, who was supported in his motion to appeal by County Council Chairman Mike Cooper, said he is disappointed.
Those who fought to keep car dealer Dwayne Lane's Island Crossing property zoned for agriculture use often-raised concerns about flooding.
"It is a terrible mistake to put development in areas that flood," Somers said. "It will end up costing taxpayers millions when Dwayne Lane and the city of Arlington want tax money to fix the (Stillaguamish) river. This is politics at its worst. Let's put economic development up out of harm's way."
After the most recent flood, Lane said that he won't be able to borrow money to build a car dealership there without addressing flood issues.
The failed motion to appeal effectively puts an end to the annexation question, said Councilman John Koster, whose district includes the Arlington area.
"We got a pretty clear message from Judge Fair," Koster said. "We voted not to drag this out anymore."
City officials are relieved that annexation issue is over, spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said.
"Now the work of making the transition begins," she said.
Fire District 19 of Silvana will continue to provide fire protection for Island Crossing until November, Banfield said. The transition from county to city police protection also is in the works and a census is planned, she said. The city already provides water service to the area.
"We are looking forward to working with our new residents," Banfield said.
When the state Supreme Court ruled in October that inclusion of Island Crossing in the city's urban growth area was valid, city officials believed the ruling paved the way for annexation. On Nov. 17, the City Council voted unanimously to annex 210 acres, roughly half of which is the Island Crossing area near the intersection of I-5 and Highway 530.
Attorneys for the county filed a lawsuit Dec. 10 demanding the city repeal the annexation of the Island Crossing. They argued that the county would have to go back and again place the area in Arlington's urban growth area in order for the annexation to be legal. Judge Fair ruled that step was unnecessary.
Reporter Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427 or gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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