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Annexation Court Decisions

This page highlights key court decisions regarding annexation in Washington State, presented in chronological order with the most recent at the top.

It is part of MRSC's series on Annexation in Washington State.

Annexation of more territory than was described in petition

Interlake Sporting Ass'n v. Boundary Review Board, 158 Wn.2d 545 (2006) – The State Supreme Court invalidated a boundary review board decision that, at the request of King County, expanded a proposed annexation by the City of Redmond to more than three times the size of the area represented in the annexation petition. The expanded area had previously voted at an election to reject annexation. The Court, in a 5-4 decision, held that the review board violated RCW 35A.14.140, which authorizes a code city to "annex all or any portion of the proposed area but may not include in the annexation any property not described in the petition," and that the review board exceeded its authority under RCW 36.93.150 to modify the boundaries of a proposed annexation. The Court also concluded that the review board's decision offended the due process rights of property owners in the annexation area. However, the 2012 legislature, in ESHB 1627 (Laws of 2012, ch. 212), responded to this decision by amending RCW 36.93.150(2) to give boundary review boards the express authority to add territory to a proposed annexation as long as the amount of territory added does not exceed 100% of the original proposal.

Notice to Boundary Review Board

Snohomish County Fire Protection District v. Boundary Review Board, 155 Wn.2d 70 (2005) – RCW 36.93.090 provides that a notice of intention must be filed with the boundary review board within 180 days of when the annexation is "proposed." The State Supreme Court interpreted this to mean that an annexation is "proposed" for purposes of this statute when the initiators of the annexation file their petition - in this case, a 75% petition - with the city. An annexation is not "proposed" for purposes of this statute when the initial notice of intention, sometimes referred to as the 10% petition, is filed with the city.

Petition method is constitutional

Grant County Fire Protection District v. City of Moses Lake, 150 Wn.2d 791 (2004) – The State Supreme court, upon reconsideration, reverses its earlier decision at 145 Wn.2d 702 (2002) and holds that the petition method of annexation is constitutional.

Franchises in annexed territory

Dahl-Smyth, Inc. v. City of Walla Walla, 148 Wn.2d 835 (2003) – RCW 35A.14.900 and RCW 35.13.280 provide that, when a city that annexes an area that is served by certain types of franchises, any such franchise is automatically canceled and the city must issue a new franchise for a seven-year period (formerly five years), unless the city purchases or condemns the franchise. Under these statutes, if the city issues a new franchise for a seven-year period, it will still be liable to the franchisee for any "measurable damages" the franchisee suffers. The state supreme court, overruling the court of appeals, held that the city's liability under RCW 35A.14.900 for "measurable damages" is "to be calculated at the time of annexation by determining the difference in market value of the hauler's [WUTC-issued] certificate before and after annexation. In determining an award, the amount of damages must then be reduced by the benefit gained by the hauler from the five-year [now seven-year] extension of the franchise."

Annexation of school property

King County Water District v. Renton, 88 Wn. App. 214 (1997) – In this case, the court of appeals held that, under RCW 28A.335.110, a public school district may petition to have school property annexed to a city only if the school property constitutes the whole of the property sought to be annexed. A public school district may not petition for annexation if the school property comprises only a fraction of the property sought to be annexed. This holding applies to code cities, as well as to other classes of cities.

Outside utility agreements can be used as a valid waiver of future rights

Yakima County Fire Protection District No. 12 v. City of Yakima, 122 Wn.2d 371 (1993) – Some cities in Washington utilize what is termed an outside utility agreement, in which property owners who reside outside the city limits are allowed to receive municipal utility services if they sign an agreement that they will sign a future annexation petition. This type of outside utility agreement was upheld in the case as a valid waiver of future rights.

City can sign annexation petition

Johnson v. Spokane, 19 Wn. App. 722 (1978) – In this case a city was held to have the authority to sign an annexation petition in the same manner as owners of taxable property. The fact that property owned by the city is tax exempt does not mean the city cannot sign the annexation petition.

Last Modified: February 23, 2024