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AGO 1963 No. 38 - July 22, 1963
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS ‑- METROPOLITAN ‑- MUNICIPALITY OF METROPOLITAN SEATTLE ‑- WITHDRAWAL OF TERRITORY ‑- LACK OF AUTHORITY.

Under the laws of the state of Washington there is no authority by which territory presently within the boundaries of the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle may be withdrawn from the municipality.

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                                                                    July 22, 1963

Honorable Gary Grant
State Representative, 47th District
3741 136th S. E.
Bellevue, Washington

                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 63-64 No. 38

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged, you have requested an opinion of this office on questions which we paraphrase as follows:

            (1) Is it possible under the laws of the state of Washington for a territory presently within the boundaries of the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle to withdraw from those boundaries?

            (2) If it is possible, what procedure should be followed to accomplish this withdrawal?

            The answer to question (1) is in the negative, thereby rendering consideration of question (2) unnecessary.  Our reasoning is set forth in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The municipality of Metropolitan Seattle is a metropolitan municipal corporation established pursuant to the provisions of chapter 213, Laws of 1957 (cf. RCW 35.58.010,et seq.) As you are aware, this chapter contains no provision authorizing the withdrawal or detachment of territory from a metropolitan municipal corporation.

            Accordingly, it is our opinion, in the absence of any provision expressly authorizing withdrawal or detachment of territory, that such withdrawal or detachment is not presently legally possible.

            This conclusion is based upon the generally recognized rule that  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] both annexation of new territory to, and withdrawal or detachment of territory from, municipal corporations is dependent upon the existence of a statute providing for such action.  See, 2 McQuillin, Municipal Corporations, § 7.24; 37 Am.Jur., Municipal Corporations, § 35; and annotation entitled "Power to detach land from municipal corporations, towns or villages," 117 A.L.R. 267.  Also, see opinion of this office dated January 26, 1928 [[1927-28 OAG 493 to Division of Municipal Corporations]], copy enclosed.

            Additional support for the conclusion that our legislature did not intend to allow for small units or parcels of land to be withdrawn from a metropolitan municipal corporation may be found in the sections of chapter 213, Laws of 1957,supra, relating to the formation of "metros."  Section 4 (cf. RCW 35.58.040), provides:

            "No metropolitan municipal corporation shall include only a part of any city, and every city shall be either wholly included or wholly excluded from the boundaries of such corporation. . . ."

            Also, see § 8 (cf. RCW 35.58.080), relating to the determination of boundaries by the board of commissioners of the central county and providing:

            ". . . The commissioners may make such changes in the boundaries of the metropolitan area as they shall deem reasonable and proper, but may not delete any portion of the proposed area which will create an island of included or excluded lands, may not delete a portion of any city, and may not delete any portion of the proposed area which is contributing or may reasonably be expected to contribute to the pollution of any water course or body of water in the proposed area when the petition or resolution names metropolitan sewage disposal as a function to be performed by the proposed metropolitan municipal corporation. . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Obviously, the legislature did not intend to allow parts of cities, or other small units or parcels of land to be excluded from the metropolitan municipal corporation upon the formation thereof.  Accordingly, it would be unreasonable to conclude that the legislature by inferencedid intend to allow the withdrawal of such parts of cities or other small units or parcels of land from the "metro"  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] after its formation.

            Because of this negative answer to your first question, consideration of your second question regarding procedure for detachment or withdrawal of territory is unnecessary.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Assistant Attorney General

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