Rural feel, large lot sizes give Brier a relaxed pace

Meet Brier, the city for those in need of a bit more space.

Fifteen miles north of Seattle, between Mountlake Terrace and Lake Forest Park in South Snohomish County, Brier is a statement to developers everywhere that some folks prefer a bit larger spread.

"Our minimum lot size is 12,500 square feet," said Larry Hinrichs of Brier Realty. "That's considerably larger than most neighboring communities."

The city is zoned exclusively for single-family homes, which keeps Brier serene and spacious, Hinrichs said.

"Early in Brier's history, there was the threat of annexation into Mountlake Terrace, which has smaller lot sizes," Mayor Bob Colinas said.

"But people here like having more space, so [annexation] was an issue then and continues to be an issue today."

Incorporated in 1965, Brier is home to more than 6,300 residents who live in relative obscurity, mostly because the zoning laws and the city's somewhat out-of-the-way location limit the flow of traffic through the area.

Still, the community is active, hosting an annual maritime-themed parade, "SeaScare," which is well supported by local businesses.

The city is also home to one of two public horse-riding arenas in the county.

Crime rates in Brier are consistently among the lowest in Snohomish County, according to Uniform Crime Reports produced by the state Office of Financial Management.

"Because the business community is smaller, less people use the city as a drive-through, which helps reduce crime," said Brier Police Chief Don Lane. "Our residents look out for one another."

The lot sizes in the city have begun to draw bigger homes.

"We're not seeing as many starter houses in the low to mid-$200,000s anymore, which has been the trend for the last year or so," Hinrichs said. "Developers are seeing these big lots and building larger, newer, more expensive homes with three-car garages."

The rural feeling and extra space in Brier appeal to homebuyers, Hinrichs said, and homes in the city are in demand.

"Right now, we are dealing with a shortage of inventory," he said.

Of the 11 houses recently listed for sale in Brier, prices ranged from $324,000 to $649,500, according to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which tracks home sales in more than a dozen counties in the state.

"There's a touch of country here even though we're in close proximity to the city," Hinrichs said.

Colinas agreed.

"If you like living in an area where you occasionally hear the crow of a rooster or the cackle of a guinea hen, you'll like Brier," Colinas said. "It's a little piece of the semirural lifestyle in the middle of a well-populated region."

A rider exercises her horse at the Brier Riding Arena, which is one of two public horse-riding arenas in Snohomish County. (JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES, 2003)


Population: 6,383, according to the 2000 census

Schools: Brier is served by the Edmonds Public School District.

Housing: Of 2,122 housing units, almost 90 percent are owner-occupied.

Nearby medical facilities: Providence Everett Medical Center, 1321 Colby Ave., Everett; Stevens Hospital, 21601 76th Ave. W., Edmonds

Shopping: Alderwood Mall, 3000 184th St. S.W., Lynnwood

Public facilities: Brier Park, 2903 228th St. S.W.; Brierwood Park, 2655 Elm Drive; City Light Woods (leased from Seattle City Light), 236th Street, west of 35th Avenue; Locust Creek Park, Vine Road, west of Oak Way; Brier Patch Park, 36th Avenue West and 216th Drive Southwest.

Staff researcher Miyoko Wolf