Stanwood mulls doubling in size

By Brian Kelly

Herald Writer

STANWOOD — If Stanwood annexes the unincorporated Cedarhome area, the size of the city would almost double and Cedarhome residents would pay lower taxes, according to a recently released consultant’s report.

The Stanwood City Council will review the report in a workshop tonight. But public testimony on the 343-acre annexation will not be taken until a hearing in October.

It’s the third time property owners at the town’s northeast end have tried to stretch Stanwood’s city limits to include their neighborhood. The city council shot down two earlier proposals, most recently in November 1998, because of concerns over a lack of planning on wastewater treatment.

Those issues, however, have been resolved. If the annexation is approved, it would be the largest in Stanwood’s history. Although the city has approved six annexations since December 1993, they have been small, and the town has grown modestly, adding just 100 acres.

"I think we’re making up a little bit for lost time," said Stephanie Cleveland, Stanwood’s community development director. "Instead of taking it little by little, where you’re doing smaller annexations, we’re just doing one fairly large one."

Annexation proponents say the area should be included because Stanwood, as well as Snohomish County, have made major infrastructure investments in the neighborhood, including an elementary school, street improvements, a sewage lift station and a water line extension.

But the size of the annexation could grow even bigger.

An unincorporated area of 129 acres that would link Cedarhome to the existing city limits at 80th Street NW could be added by the state board that reviews annexation proposals. If that area is included, Stanwood would increase by 41 percent, according to a consultant’s study.

Stanwood’s population would more than double if the entire area is added, according to the report. Stanwood is expected to have a population of 4,077 by 2015; the population projection for Cedarhome and the added area is estimated at 4,125 by 2015.

The city council has taken no stand on increasing the annexation area, Cleveland said.

"The council has opted to remain neutral on that," she said. "They weren’t going to push it; they weren’t going to fight it."

The annexation proposal cleared one of its most significant hurdles in January, when property owners representing 60 percent of the land value in Cedarhome signed petitions to join the city.

Since then, consultants for the city, Shockey/Brent Inc. of Everett, have been preparing a study to gauge annexation impacts. The report says the annexation is consistent with city and county growth plans, and infrastructure improvement plans are in place to handle new burdens on roads, sewers and other capital facilities.

If the area is annexed, Cedarhome residents would pay lower taxes. According to the annexation study, the owner of a $150,000 home would see a property tax decrease of $112 a year.

The city council will discuss the annexation during a study session tonight. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

You can call Herald Writer Brian Kelly at 425-339-3422 or send e-mail to

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