WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee City Council approved one annexation and delayed voting on another following public comment Thursday night from county officials and a property owner.
The city has been considering two annexations: one on Melody Lane and another on North Western Avenue and McKittrick Street. Combined, the properties would add more than 10 acres to the city and bring in more permitting fees and annual property revenue.
The public hearing will end at the council’s May 12 meeting at which time they can vote to approve the annexation.
JAB Investors LLC brought the annexation to the city through a petition. The annexation area in the lower Sunnyslope area includes four properties, including Grace City Church.
Because the assessed value of the area is less than $2 million, the Chelan County Boundary Review Board can waive its right to review the annexation. However, Chelan County officials said they oppose the annexation and will likely seek review from the Boundary Review Board.
Josh Patrick, the county’s Assistant Public Works Director, said the county submitted a letter to the city the previous week outlining the county’s public works concerns with the annexation.
“These finger-like extensions out into the county, they just seem to be inefficient and confusing services to the property owners in the area,” Patrick said. “We’re better able to make maintenance and construction plans and address public concerns or emergencies when these complex boundaries are reduced or eliminated as much as possible.”
Chelan County Commissioner Bob Bugert said the county wants a deeper dialogue with the city about how the two approach these kinds of annexations. He also advocated for a “much more systematic, broad, sweeping and well-thought-up approach.”
“We think that this is really doing a disservice to the citizens of Chelan County. It may benefit the citizens of Wenatchee but not the county as a whole,” Bugert said. “We think that there are better ways that we can do this in a coordinated fashion with the city and the county together.”
Bugert and Mayor Frank Kuntz agreed that it would be in the county's and city's interest to work on some of the “island” areas where one jurisdiction is completely surrounding a small part of another’s.
“There needs to be some discussion between the two organizations if this is the right thing to do for not only the city but the county because it can get ugly,” Kuntz said “There's a lot of people that don't want anybody to tell them who their government is…They're just happy with the way it is and don't change it.”
Kuntz added that this makes him all the more inclined to accept an annexation when it’s from a property owner.
“We accept these with open arms because all the other ones we just get pounded on beat up on,” he said. “These people there, enough of them wanted to come in.”
North Western Avenue and McKittrick Street
The council voted unanimously to annex five parcels at the northeast corner of North Western Avenue and McKittrick Street. The area is a Chelan County island surrounded by city limits. The 5-acre area contains three single-family homes, a mini storage facility and a small office building.
The annexation was brought to the city through a petition from Brian Fair of Fair Properties. Fair owns a property at 1697 N. Western Ave.
During a public hearing on the annexation, property owner David Granatstein voiced his opposition.
“I'm very happy being part of the county and would like to continue in that relationship as are most of the property owners in the island,” Granatstein said. “We had a pretty clear vote, I believe several years ago, to deny the annexation at that time. I guess my thought is why not just annex the commercial properties and leave the residential property owners as is?”
Council member Keith Huffaker said he and other council members received a letter from another property owner voicing their opposition to annexation.
The council’s vote is not the final step in the annexation process. It now moves to the Chelan County Boundary Review Board since the total assessed value of the area is over $2 million. If the board approves it, the annexation will return to the council for a final approval.
“I'll just make a comment that I think there is a good process here,” Huffker said. “I'm willing to move it forward from our point onto Boundary Review, and the people who are opposed can make their voice be heard there at Chelan County.”