Snohomish wins round in land use battle with Lake Stevens

Snohomish 1, Lake Stevens 0.

A state hearings board ruled in Snohomish’s favor Monday, giving the city a small victory in an ongoing feud for control of valuable land north of U.S. 2.

The board threw out a petition from Lake Stevens partly because board members decided the board didn’t have jurisdiction to decide the matter.

Both Lake Stevens and Snohomish want to claim county land north of U.S. 2 for much-needed jobs and sales tax revenue.

When mediation failed in January, Snohomish laid claim to the land anyway by designating some of the disputed land as a city planning area.

Lake Stevens filed a petition with the state Growth Management Hearings Board contending Snohomish was trying to circumvent the process for expanding its borders. Each city in Snohomish County has its own comprehensive plan that includes where it may expand its borders. Changes happen once a year, and the county has to approve any expansions.

Snohomish viewed the petition as a frivolous waste of time and asked the board to drop the petition, Snohomish City Manager Larry Bauman said.

Monday, the hearings board sided with Snohomish, writing in the decision that Snohomish’s planning area isn’t the same as an amendment to the comprehensive plan.

In the decision, the board acknowledged that Snohomish used language in its resolution that is “aggressive and assertive” to form a planning area. However, city leaders also acknowledged the disputed land is under county control.

Since it remains under county control, the board isn’t the body to deal with Lake Stevens’ grievance.

Several calls to Lake Stevens Mayor Vern Little weren’t returned Tuesday.

Lake Stevens could appeal, Bauman said.

Snohomish leaders are just ready to say goodbye to what they consider a nuisance.

“I hope this closes the matter and this doesn’t further waste their own precious public funds or cause us to do the same,” Bauman said.

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