Bothell’s growth plans face challenge

BOTHELL — A new appeal seeks to make Bothell redraw some boundaries of its proposed northward annexation.

The city had hoped to put its expansion plan on the Nov. 8 ballot. That would have given about 22,000 people from unincorporated Snohomish County the chance to join the city. Now that schedule is in doubt.

On Friday, one of the people in the affected area filed court paperwork challenging the proposed city limits. Lockwood Road resident Jeff Berg’s objections include the way the city’s plan, in his opinion, would split up neighborhoods.

Berg hopes to convince the city to alter some of the proposed boundaries in the southwestern part of the annexation area, said his attorney, Brendan Donckers of Seattle. Berg’s goal isn’t to stop the entire process.

“We would really like to cooperatively work with the city to come to a resolution,” Donckers said.

Locust Way, an arterial on the western side of the annexation area, would be a more appropriate city boundary than the lot lines the city used, Donckers said. In other places, the proposed city limits would unnaturally split wetlands, a mobile home park for senior citizens and the attendance area for Lockwood Elementary School, the appeal argues.

The proposed annexation is based on an area the county and local cities identified for Bothell’s future growth. It’s a concept that planners refer to as an urban growth area. The city’s proposal is to add the entire growth area in Snohomish County.

The appeal challenges the county Boundary Review Board’s June decision to allow the city to go forward with the annexation because it met legal requirements. The board finalized its decision in July.

The last remaining obstacle appeared to be Snohomish County Fire District 1, whose commissioners have raised concerns about the adequacy of Bothell’s plans for paramedic service in the areas the city would take over from the fire district. The district’s commissioners voted 4-1 this month to engage the city in direct talks, rather than taking the issue to court. Those discussions are ongoing.

Bothell city leaders are looking into whether Berg’s appeal will disrupt their plans to put the annexation on the ballot this fall. City Manager Bob Stowe said Bothell has been trying to fulfill the wishes of people from unincorporated Snohomish County who want to join the city. Some have been working at it for more than a decade.

“(W)e have been looking forward to the opportunity for 22,000 residents to decide their own destiny in terms of local government representation,” Stowe said.

Separately, the city is working to annex about 5,000 people in King County

For now, Bothell’s 33,000 people are split more or less evenly between King and Snohomish counties. If the annexation goes through, most of the city’s population would be in Snohomish County. To pass, the annexation would need to win a simple majority of votes.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465;

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