Legal battles begin over new county courthouse

EVERETT — There’s a row of law offices standing in the way of Snohomish County and a future courthouse.

On Monday, the County Council authorized spending $200,000 to hire more lawyers for its side.

They county is contracting with Pacifica Law Group of Seattle for what promises to be a high-stakes eminent domain process. The agreement runs through the end of the year.

The County Council originally considered building the courthouse on the present-day site of the plaza next to the 1960s courthouse that will be replaced.

In November, the council changed course and voted 3-2 to build the new justice center on Wall Street between Oakes and Rockefeller avenues. The site is across the street and about a block east of the current courthouse.

The new building will cost a projected $162 million, after adding in features for security and energy conservation, among others.

Most of the future building site is a county parking lot. To move forward with construction, the county must buy out a half-dozen business owners on the periphery — including three buildings used as law offices, a bail bond business and a legal messenger service.

It’s not clear how much the condemnations will cost the county, but it’s bound to be infinitely more complicated than looking up assessed property values.

One of the attorneys, Royce Ferguson, received a letter from Pacifica dated Jan. 23. It informed him of the county’s intent to acquire his office building “under threat of condemnation.”

The county “intends to make a written offer to purchase the property early in 2014,” the letter states.

Ferguson, whose office has been in the same place for two decades, reacted by painting the side of his building with an-impossible-to-miss message: “Building for sale $1,750,000 (includes plans &dreams) No taxpayer borrowing!”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Within an hour, 2 planes crash-land at Paine Field

One simply landed hard and went off the end of a runway. Another crash involved unextended landing gear.

Mill Creek’s Donna Michelson ready to retire at year’s end

The city’s longest-serving council member says she has every intention of staying involved.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Foundation awards grants to Arlington schools

The Arlington Education Foundation on Nov. 13 presented a check to the… Continue reading

Snohomish County firefighters head to California for 18 days

They’re from Fire District 26 in Gold Bar, Getchell Fire and Fire District 7.

State commission reprimands Snohomish County judge for DUI

Judge Marybeth Dingledy had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a day in jail.

Driver arrested after car strikes pedestrian in Everett

The pedestrian was crossing the road near 12th Street and Broadway. He was injured.

Active Casino Road volunteer honored for work

Molina Healthcare recently honored Jorge Galindo, from Everett, as one of its… Continue reading

Over $12K raised to InspireHER

InspireHER, a local organization that encourages female empowerment, raised over $12,000 at… Continue reading

Most Read