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City wants to expand urban growth area in the southwest
MONROE - The city asked the City Council last week to gamble on a project to expand the city’s urban growth area in the name of economic development.
The City Council voted to take that gamble, which could cost the city several thousands of dollars.
Economic development manager Jeff Sax gave a presentation on the benefits of incorporating around 300 acres in southwest Monroe that includes land on both sides of Highway 522 into the city’s urban growth area. Property within urban growth areas are eventually annexed into the city. Sax told the City Council last week that the city had missed a deadline with Snohomish County to file a request to expand the city’s UGA, but he said the city should move forward on work for this project anyway.
Sax said if the city doesn’t do this now, it could be several years before the city can look at this property again.
The work includes conducting an environmental impact statement that could be for naught if the County Council chooses not to expand Monroe’s urban growth area.
The city hasn’t done a cost analysis, but Sax said the environmental work alone could cost $60,000 to $200,000.
The County Council is scheduled to approve its work list for any land use amendments to the county’s comprehensive plan Wednesday, May 29.
“We as a city government cannot modify our urban growth area,” Sax said. “The County Council would look at that and say that Monroe’s plan is inconsistent with the county’s. They would have to make a decision at that point: do we allow and modify the county comprehensive plan to bring it into consistency with the city of Monroe as the citizens and the council have recommended? Or they could say no we don’t agree with what Monroe has done and they can force our plan to be consistent with the county’s.”
In the end, it’s the county’s decision, Sax said.
“We may spend this money and do the work to do the environmental analysis and end up with nothing,” he said.
Sax said the city feels expanding the UGA in this area is “essential to the growth of Monroe.” The city also wants to change the land use designation in the area.
He said the city’s industrial park land is filling up, is underutilized and has no large tracts of vacant land available that are desirable to commercial real estate agents.
Although changing the land use designation to commercial in this area would create “a lot of potential” for economic growth, there are several houses out there that would require a lot of work on the city’s part, he said.
David Remlinger who owns property near the proposed UGA expansion site asked to have his property included in the expansion.
Remlinger would like to place a “commercial network” on part of his property, which is south of city limits, Sax said. Ideas for his property include a hotel or retirement community. Sax said Remlinger also wants to bring a sewer line down to his property, which would allow for a conference center, restaurants, or even wineries, breweries and distilleries.
“It’s a great piece of property,” Sax said. “It would add a tremendous amount of property value to our city.”
The UGA expansion area is currently zoned as Residential 5, which limits the land to one house per 5 acres or about 18 homes.
Sax said the city may still be able to get on the county’s 2013 docket to review the UGA expansion request.
“The comprehensive plans in the docket are 100 percent political issues,” Sax said. “If we have the political support to move forward on this, the May 29 date is not a deadline, it’s an instruction.”


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