by Doug Nadvornick & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he fate of a dispute about 135 acres of land in north Spokane now rests with the Spokane County Boundary Review Board, which last night heard public testimony on a proposal by the city of Spokane to annex the property.

The parcel contains "39 single family homes, a commercial area and Holy Cross Cemetery ... and is within the city's Urban Growth Area," says Boundary Review Board Director Susan Winchell.

That commercial area, of course, is the prize, since it contains a busy Costco store that brings a large amount of property and sales tax money to whichever government has jurisdiction. Both the city and county deny that it's all about the money, but the heat in their rhetoric belies that.

In a 31-page brief presented to the board and excerpted at last night's hearing, Assistant City Attorney James Richman argues that the city wants to annex the land to comply with the state's Growth Management Act, which requires cities to provide services to urban areas. But he also writes, "The County has chosen to ignore state law in favor of its own budget. Indeed, the county is on record as allowing the City to annex portions of the North Metro Area 'over our dead bodies.'"

County Commissioner Mark Richard counters by calling the city's annexation proposal "a creeping, strategic strike."

But Richard also extends an olive branch. "We support a dialogue with the city on the future of annexation." That dialogue started Tuesday when the commissioners met formally with four City Council members to talk about growth and annexation in general.

"I'm much more interested in proactive planning," Richard says. "In northeast Spokane or the West Plains, for example, areas where is there is plenty of undeveloped land," he asks, "how do we make sure the city and county both have a say in annexation?"

Members from the two bodies agreed to continue meeting to talk about joint planning and about finding ways to avoid expensive litigation over potential areas of annexation.

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