Island Crossing decision months away

ARLINGTON Steve Peiffle had a stressful experience last week. The city of Arlington's attorney made his first ever case to the Washington State Supreme Court on behalf of the proposed Island Crossing annexation.

"It was very interesting," said Mayor Margaret Larson, who has made many trips to Olympic for legislative sessions, but this was her first time in the Temple of Justice.

"I think that Steve did a great job," she said.

The city's proposal to annex 110 acres at SR 530 and Smokey Point Boulevard into the city limits has been bouncing around between the Growth Management Hearings Board, Snohomish County Council, and several appellant courts through the years.

Representatives from the three appellants spoke from three different perspectives on the sliver of property along the I-5 corridor that has been in dispute for nearly 15 years.

Alan Copsey spoke on behalf of the state's Community Trade & Economic Development; Henry Lippek spoke on behalf of the Lower Stillaguamish Flood Control District, and Peiffle, spoke on behalf of the city, which has been wanting Island Crossing inside it's limits for a long time already.

Lippek spoke of the beauty of the flood plain and how it works.

Copsey was asked to explain why his state body, CTED has gotten itself involved in this issue.

And Peiffle pitched the county's argument that the land is better suited for commercial use than for agriculture, identifying the court of appeals as "getting it right" when they overturned an earlier decision of the Growth Management Hearings Board.

The judges, including Richard Saunders, Barbara Madsen, Debra L. Stephens and Gerry Alexander and Charles W. Johnson, asked some good questions:

"Is this not an historical agriculture region?"

"Is the area still viable for agriculture or not?"

"Is this an issue about whose decision it should be or is it about flooding?"

"Is a study done by a consultant hired by the project's proponent valid?"

"Who deserves the most deference from the court: the local jurisdiction or the Growth Management Hearings Board?"

The court illustrated a certain naiveté by noting only four businesses at the intersection when there is actually nine, not including the smoke shop and businesses across the boulevard to the east.

The public can see Peiffle in action on the Web at

A decision on the case could take from six to 12 months, Peiffle said.

Even then, the decision could be reverted back to the County Council, some say.

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