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Annexation rejection frosts commissioners

The Island County Commissioners are saying the city of Langley’s recent denial of an annexation request violates an agreement the county has with the city.

The decision now leaves the commissioners wondering how it affects the county’s comprehensive plan.

Three Bellingham-based developers went to the city earlier this month with tentative plans to develop a 40-acre piece of land on Coles Road, a move could have which could result in the construction of up to 100 new homes. In a meeting on Sept. 4, the Langley City Council denied those developers’ request to petition to annex that property.

At issue for the county is an interlocal agreement with Langley under which an proposed development bordering Langley must be annexed to the city and must comply with its development and zoning standards. Developments built in the city’s urban growth area that are not immediately annexed must also comply with the city’s development and zoning standards, even if permits are issued by Island County.

At a meeting of the Board of Island County Commissioners Monday, Commissioner Mac McDowell said the agreement helps mesh the county’s and city’s comprehensive plans. He said a layman’s interpretation of the agreement seems to indicate the city violated the 1999 agreement.

Commissioner Mike Shelton pointed out that the interlocal agreement helps concentrate development close to urban services, as encouraged by the state Growth Management Act.

The commissioners talked about what the decision not to annex means to the county and the Growth Management Act during their meeting while waiting for the regularly scheduled public comment period. They did not like the answers they came up with.

“It means the county’s comp plan is a sham,” Shelton said.

The denial left the commissioners wondering why the county went through the trouble of negotiating the interlocal agreement.

The commissioners won’t get an argument from Langley Mayor Lloyd Furman who, when contacted Monday, said he agreed with the commissioners’ concerns.

Furman said the the city council had an obligation to meet the requirements of the Growth Management Act, the city’s comp plan and agreements with the county.

He said that the developer can reapply for permission to petition to annex at a later date. The mayor has no vote in city council actions in Langley.

McDowell said after Monday’s meeting that the commissioners haven’t discussed the situation with the county’s lawyers and aren’t sure of any next possible step.

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