Annexation occurs when the City adds areas within its Urban Growth Area (UGA) into city limits. While individual property owners may initiate some annexations, whether to annex territory ultimately requires Lacey City Council approval. The statute governing annexation by the City is RCW 35A.14.

Lacey Annexations

The map below shows City of Lacey Annexations over time starting with the Declaration of the Incorporation in 1967.

Annexation Methods

The methods by which cities and towns can annex territory are governed strictly by state law, and they vary somewhat by city classification. The methods of annexation by code cities are in chapter 35A.14 RCW, while the methods of annexation by non-code cities are in chapter 35.13 RCW.

Note that cities and towns located in counties that plan under the Growth Management Act may annex only property that is located within their designated urban growth areas.

Of all the methods of annexation available, the sixty percent petition method is by far the most frequently used. Cities have found the election method to be extremely cumbersome. Because of this and the expense of conducting an election, annexation elections are infrequent. Statutes authorizing summary annexations for municipal purposes are much more straightforward, but may be utilized only when a legitimate municipal reason for annexation can be shown, such as the use of the annexed land for a city park or water tower. Finally, the statutes authorizing the annexation of federal areas are of very limited application.

For a general overview of each of the methods of annexation, including links to sample documents for each method, see our summaries below:

Growth Management Act

Thurston County and its cities were already involved in growth management and comprehensive planning prior to the enactment of the Growth Management Act. During the 1980’s Lacey and Thurston County were in the forefront of many growth management-related initiatives including an inter-local agreement in 1983 which established urban growth areas and urban densities, delineated annexation areas, and specified that zoning in the Urban Growth Areas (UGA’s) would not be changed when they were annexed. A second phase of inter-local planning was completed in 1988 with another Urban Growth Agreement which identified short and long-term growth boundaries and also established where the cities of Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater could annex in the county. Additionally, the agreement only allowed cities to extend sewer service into the area within the short term urban growth boundary. Some of these principles were later incorporated into the State’s Growth Management Act.

The state Growth Management Act (GMA), adopted in 1990, sets a framework and direction for coordination and efficient growth of communities. One major goal of the GMA is to reduce urban sprawl by encouraging development in urban areas where adequate public facilities already exist or where such facilities can be more efficiently provided. Under the GMA, counties establish urban growth areas (UGAs) wherein population and employment are encouraged. UGAs may include incorporated and unincorporated areas, are
intended to be provided with urban levels of service and infrastructure, and their level of development is expected to exhibit an urban intensity not shared by rural areas. This concentration of uses and development intensity within UGAs works to ensure protection of the state’s natural environment and resource lands by deterring sprawl.

A UGA may include more than a single city, as well as territory that is located outside of a city only if such territory already is characterized by urban growth whether or not the UGA includes a city, or is adjacent to territory already characterized by urban growth, or is a designated new fully contained community as defined by RCW 36.70A.350.

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