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Published on Friday, March 24, 2017

School siting conversation reaches the Senate

HB 1017 passed just before the cutoff for bills to move from the House. It was significantly amended from where it started, and at this point represents a highly-negotiated compromise among a number of parties. Although it pushes the boundaries of the Growth Management Act in some places, city interests in having a say in utility extensions and school siting is preserved, as is the protection of ensuring any costs or impacts are paid for by the school district and mitigated.

The proposal:

  • Allows extension of public sewer and water systems outside the Urban Growth Area to serve a school when the school district documents the need. The county and the affected city concur with the school district and the city agrees to the utility extension.
  • Any impacts associated with siting the school must be mitigated as required by SEPA.
  • If infrastructure is extended the infrastructure may only serve the school and must be paid for by the school district, with the following exception:
    • Infrastructure may serve other properties if they are located within the same distance at which a property would be required to connect to sewer within the urban growth area. Cities and the counties would also have to agree to this connection as well. In addition, schools may request a latecomer payment from connecting property owners.
  • Counties may authorize siting of schools in rural areas that serve urban students even if contrary to a multicounty planning policy in Pierce County. School districts that site schools under this authority cannot impose impact fees and must participate in the county’s periodic comprehensive planning processes.
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