Snohomish makes clear its intent to claim land

SNOHOMISH — Mediation over a chunk of rural land north of U.S. 2 didn’t go anywhere so Snohomish city leaders have a new approach: lay claim on the land anyway.

The City Council voted unanimously this week to designate about 600 acres as the North Planning Area. The land stretches roughly north from U.S. 2 to 36th Street SE and east to 107th Ave SE.

The term “planning area” doesn’t mean anything under state law but officials want to make it clear they plan to eventually add this land to their growth area. They also want to ensure any development that occurs there meets the city’s objectives.

“The city will be working toward ultimately adding it to our community,” said Corbitt Loch, planning director.

Lake Stevens Mayor Vern Little said the city is still reviewing Snohomish’s resolution and he doesn’t have any official comment to make on it at the moment. It doesn’t make any sense to carve the area into chunks, he said.

Snohomish and Lake Stevens have haggled over land north of U.S. 2 since 2006. Each city would like the right to add the area to its boundaries in the future. Both say they need the land for commercial developments that would supply jobs and tax revenue.

After six months of trying to resolve the dispute with the help of a mediator, Lake Stevens rejected seven proposals for sharing the land with Snohomish last week.

Snohomish Mayor Randy Hamlin also sent Snohomish County Councilmen a letter Wednesday encouraging the council to draw a line that would communicate to both cities where they should focus their planning.

“Without the County Council’s leadership in this matter, we believe all three governments are likely to experience a repeat of the past conflict between our city and Lake Stevens,” Hamlin wrote in the letter. “I believe that none of us is eager to see this conflict continued.”

Lake Stevens officials said they came up with a different proposal for Snohomish to save money. That was for Snohomish to send all its sewage to Lake Stevens’ planned wastewater treatment plant. Lake Stevens officials said Snohomish rejected that proposal.

Snohomish City Councilman R.C. “Swede” Johnson said Lake Stevens just wants to become the Bellevue of Snohomish County, and it seems Lake Stevens has never been interested in compromise.

“The city of Snohomish has been very professional in this process,” Johnson said. “I warned the council they were going to get their lunch served to them by Vern Little and they did.”

The city will add the North Planning Area to its planning maps and continue to meet with landowners and residents in the area, Loch said.

Reporter Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or

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