A pair of bills which propose changing how cities can annex land are continuting to work their way through the state Legislature.
House Bill 1539 amending qualifications for a city to annex property was submitted to the House Rules Committee where it will by heard on Feb. 28, after The Reporter’s press deadline.
The accompanying Senate bill is also before its respective rules committee.
If signed into law, the bills would allow the city of Maple Valley to begin the annexation process for Summit Place also known as the donut hole. Annexation would shift control of zoning the property from King County, which also owns the property, to the city.
Mayor Bill Allison and David Johnston, city manager, testified Feb. 19 before the House Local Government Committee in support of the bill.
“This bill basically comes down to two very different visions for this 156 acres that has no residents on it right now,” Allison said. “The vision for Maple Valley is one of not only creating success for the city but creating success for the region as well as supporting the businesses in the region.”
Johnston explained that this legislation would be a step in the direction of making Maple Valley a self-sustaining city.
“Right now what our city has is an unbalanced tax base,” Johnston said. “Basically because we are a bedroom community, 54 percent of our residents leave town to get employment elsewhere…By providing an opportunity for local jobs for our citizens they have a choice to still be a commuter or possibly look for decent paying jobs locally.”
Harry Reinert, special projects manager for King County’s department of development and environmental services testified before the committee in opposition. Reinert expressed King County’s desire to continue to work with the city under the interlocal agreement that is in place.
Rep. Jay Rodne, who represents the 5th District which includes Maple Valley, is the primary sponsor on the House bill.
“I think it’s unprecedented that we have a city that completely surrounds a small rural enclave, it is almost at the heart of Maple Valley,” Rodne said before the Local Government Committee. “I think in matters of fairness and matters of equity, Maple Valley should be the one to be the entity that decides how that donut hole is used and developed. Not the county, which really is far removed from the local concerns of the local citizens.
For Allison the legislation ultimately comes down to the city’s desire to control it’s own future.
“We need that assurance that we as a community, that we are in charge of the vision. King County stated again that they want to get the most money they can out of the property,” Allison said in a phone interview Feb. 26. “The issue becomes that if they (the county) do it, if King County has control of the property, they can put whatever they want there and collect all the fees and then they say, ‘Here you go, Maple Valley, you get what’s left.”