Stacy Brewer (right) talks with Susan Fenner about signature issues and a proposed annexation to the city of Lake Stevens on Aug 5. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Stacy Brewer (right) talks with Susan Fenner about signature issues and a proposed annexation to the city of Lake Stevens on Aug 5. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Lake Stevens mayor signed an annexation petition 29 times

The terms of a homeowners association agreement bar residents in one neighborhood from opposing it.

LAKE STEVENS — A petition to annex 108 acres into the city has enough signatures.

But some homeowners say it’s unfairly skewed.

Of the 80 signatures, 29 are the mayor’s.

A 2010 homeowners association agreement involving one of four main developments in the area bars those owners from opposing annexation and grants the city authority to petition for them. Lake Stevens Mayor John Spencer signed the petition for 29 owners.

Stacy Brewer, 57, has lived in his home for 14 years. It is within the annexation area but is not under the HOA agreement. He and his neighbors don’t have a fair voice in the annexation, he said. The guaranteed signatures pushed the petition past the required 60 percent.

“That’s not how the annexation process is designed,” he said. “It’s supposed to be signed by the property owners who are affected.”

The mayor said he understands the frustration, but the terms of the homeowners association agreement are clear.

“If you went to every one of those homeowners in that HOA agreement, they may have voted differently,” Spencer said. “That’s why I’d prefer a more widespread effort, not one by one by one.”

The city of Lake Stevens now encircles about three-quarters of its namesake.

City leaders are looking to annex the rest of the land around the lake. There were large annexations a decade ago, and expanding the city limits has been in the plans since before the current city administration. Spencer said he’d like to focus on annexing large swaths, possibly by election rather than petition, so more people have a say.

Neighbors are questioning the annexation of this area southwest of Lake Stevens city boundaries. (City of Lake Stevens)

Neighbors are questioning the annexation of this area southwest of Lake Stevens city boundaries. (City of Lake Stevens)

The area in question now is south of the city, near 123rd Avenue SE and the Machias Cut-Off. It’s called the Rhodora annexation area.

Nearly 360 people live there. The area includes more than 130 homes. That could increase to upward of 300 houses, records show. The city plans to zone it for medium- to high-density residential.

If annexed, the land would remain part of the same school, sewer and fire districts. The city would take over law enforcement and public works, namely roads. Based on 2018 rates, city taxes would be lower than the county, but the city has utility fees that the county does not.

Brewer has gathered signatures on his own petition to challenge the annexation through the five-person Boundary Review Board for Snohomish County.

He hopes they’ll deny the annexation. He feels communication with homeowners was lacking and does not believe the mayor’s signatures are valid.

The petition against a proposed annexation to the city of Lake Stevens (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The petition against a proposed annexation to the city of Lake Stevens (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

State law allows for agreements that require future annexation in return for extending utility services, according to the Municipal Research and Services Center. The “intent to annex” clause that affects Rhodora does not include language about utilities.

“I hope that it’s enough to squelch this annexation process,” Brewer said. “Without those signatures, they don’t have 60 percent.”

He’s not impressed by how the city has handled growth. He points to traffic problems and newer neighborhoods with narrow streets and tight-packed buildings.

“I’m not against development,” Brewer said. “It’s going to happen. But this is not the type of development I feel is responsible.”

Mayor Spencer said there’s a lot of angst about density.

“We’ll be looking hard at our land use and zoning codes so that we can create some quality neighborhoods and make those areas feel like they’re part of the city and not an appendage,” he said.

Stacy Brewer (right) talks with Susan Fenner about a proposed annexation to the city of Lake Stevens. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Stacy Brewer (right) talks with Susan Fenner about a proposed annexation to the city of Lake Stevens. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

David Toyer, a consultant, is listed as the representative for property owners who started the annexation petition. Materials created by Toyer do not name the owners and he did not return a phone call for this story.

In a July 17 letter to the review board, Toyer said there was a community meeting in October, fliers and postcards mailed earlier this year, door hangers and online information. However, people who either signed the petition or indicated they did not support it were removed from the mailing list “to avoid ‘spamming’ them with information,” he wrote.

The county assessor’s office in May certified that the Rhodora annexation petition had enough signatures. Including those covered by the HOA agreement, they represent the owners of 61.37 percent of total property value in the affected area.

The petition has gone to the boundary review board. The annexation request would return to the Lake Stevens City Council after the board considers it, according to city documents.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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