The Snohomish County Council voted 3-2 Wednesday to add 411 acres of rural land dubbed Whiskey Ridge to Marysville’s urban growth area.
Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall called it a good decision, while Lake Stevens Mayor Lynn Walty called it a setback. But the two city leaders pledged to continue to work together despite their differences.
Both cities vied hard for the land. Marysville wanted the whole chunk between 83rd Avenue NE and Highway 9 from 64th Street NE to Soper Hill Road. Lake Stevens wanted about half, the portion from Sunnyside School Road south to Soper Hill Road.
As both cities expand their boundaries by annexing mostly residential areas, Whiskey Ridge holds the potential for commercial development. That would help pay the costs of providing services to the area during the 12- to 18-month lag time before the city begins to receive property tax revenue.
“We talked afterward,” Kendall said of Walty. “My philosophy is this is done and over with, let’s go on to whatever’s next. I feel it was a very good decision. I appreciate all of the assistance from the County Council and the citizens up on the hill, who did a lot of legwork to assure that this comes into our UGA. They were very happy.”
Republican County Councilman John Koster led the push for Whiskey Ridge, and was backed by council Democrats Dave Gossett and Kirke Sievers.
Councilmen Jeff Sax and Gary Nelson opposed the measure, hoping for a deal between the two cities.
Koster feared sprawling rural developments that neither Marysville nor Lake Stevens would want in the future.
“Marysville needs this to make their whole plan work together,” Koster said, adding that he hopes the two cities continue to work things out.
Lake Stevens officials were disappointed. They viewed Whiskey Ridge as a key to commercial development in the city.
“It’s a setback; that’s the best way to define it,” Walty said. “We’re big boys, we’ll back up and do what we need to. My concern is that we maintain a working relationship with the (Marysville) mayor.
“We’re still reeling as to what directions we really need to be going. We have a lot to do already, and I think we need to stay focused there. To say (Whiskey Ridge is) dead right now, I’m now ready to do that,” Walty said.
The two sides negotiated, but Marysville stood fast in its unwillingness to split the acreage with Lake Stevens. Instead, Marysville officials offered other concessions, including allowing Lake Stevens to be involved in the master planning process, to provide that city with staff support to help with its new annexation of more than 800 acres that moved the city’s western boundary to Highway 9, and to share revenue from commercial enterprises in the area. Those negotiations reached an impasse.
Walty and Kendall plan to meet today with County Executive Aaron Reardon to discuss Whiskey Ridge and other issues.
“I think in the spirit of cooperation, we’d be looking for some input from them,” Kendall said. “The (Marysville City) Council has told me at this point the revenue sharing will probably come off the table.”
The Marysville City Council won’t meet again until Jan. 3.
Kendall said the breakdown in negotiations hasn’t harmed the relationship between the two cities, which cooperate on many other issues.
“We’re going to continue to be good neighbors,” Kendall said.
Marysville officials plan to begin developing a master plan for the area immediately, and begin the annexation process early in 2006, city planning and community development director Gloria Hirashima said. They hope to have it completed by the end of next year, she said.
The Whiskey Ridge area likely will include a mix of land uses, including single- and multifamily homes and some commercial development, she said.