Fire district opposes annexation request

Residents of an unincorporated area who thought they would be joining Mill Creek can’t count on it just yet.

The Fire District 1 board of commissioners voted 3-1 last weekto contest the proposed Thomas Lake annexation into the city. The City Council had approved the boundaries for the resident-initiated annexation in March and sent it to Snohomish County for its approval.

The proposed annexation area is north and east of the city, along the south side of 132nd Street SE, straddling 35th Avenue SE and including the Thomas Lake shopping center.

Fire District 1 commissioners say the annexation would create an irregular boundary by omitting an area to the south between 35th Avenue SE and Seattle Hill Road that contains Thomas Lake.

The district would still have to serve the area, but its vehicles coming from stations to the north and northeast would have to go through Mill Creek to reach it, commissioners said. Mill Creek is served by Fire District 7, and the two districts use different dispatch systems, commissioners said.

“If both are going and didn’t know it, there’s the potential for a wreck,” commissioner Brian McMahan said.

With District 7 serving the area to the south, the area in question becomes a jurisdictional island, commissioner Larry Hadland said.

“It’s an illogical boundary,” said Hadland, who works as a paramedic for the Lynnwood Fire Department. “To me, it’s more philosophic.”

If the area is added to the annexation, the fire district will drop its objection, the commissioners said, despite the fact the district would lose $44,000 in annual property tax revenue.

The county Boundary Review Board, which is reviewing the proposal, can change the boundaries or leave them the same. If the fire district continues with its objection, hearings would be held at the county level, extending the process. The fire district has until May 5 to drop its objection without setting the hearing process in motion, commissioners said.

Whichever border is approved by the county will be voted on by the Mill Creek City Council. Mayor Terry Ryan said the city has to add public works personnel and a couple of police officers to accommodate the annexation as it is proposed, and can’t afford right now to add any more.

“We don’t have the infrastructure to annex anything that might look nice on a map,” Ryan said. “We don’t have enough room to put the employees.”

Lisa Hopp, who collected petition signatures last fall for the annexation, was not pleased with the fire district’s decision.

“It’s a resident-initiated annexation. I think their perspective has been lost,” she said.

The commissioners said they support the residents’ desire to annex to the city. Hadland suggested a meeting between city and fire officials before the hearing process begins.

“Let’s resolve it now,” he said.

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or

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