News

Council rejects annexation proposal

A proposal by Oak Harbor city planners for a large-scale annexation on the south end of the city won’t move forward.

Members of the Oak Harbor City Council unanimously rejected the recommendation from city staff at the regular council meeting Tuesday night. They did, however, approve a request to circulate a formal petition to annex a much smaller piece of property into the city.

A couple of council members were also very critical of how the annexation request was handled. The issue had to be pulled from last month’s council agenda because affected residents hadn’t been notified.

“This speaks to the core issue of the problem the city has had communicating with the citizens,” Councilman Larry Eaton said.

In June, Dennis and Cindy Sigler submitted a letter of intent to commence annexation proceedings for a property located west of Scenic Heights Road and north of Waterloo Road. The property doesn’t have frontage on a public street, but has an easement across property to Waterloo Road. The area is within the city’s urban growth area and is designated for low-density residential development.

Development Director Steve Powers said staff felt the annexation request provided the city with an excellent opportunity to consider a larger area for annexation. He said a larger area would allow for collective, comprehensive planning, especially when it comes to planning for the extension of roads and other utilities.

Powers proposed adding 10 other parcels in the annexation request. The owners of two of the parcels had already requested annexation and another parcel is connected to city sewers under the condition that the property annex into the city when it becomes contiguous to city limits.

Yet Councilwoman Sue Karahalios wasn’t pleased with the process.

She said the annexation was originally scheduled for the last council meeting without notifying the property owners who would be affected. She said it was only rescheduled after she investigated and complained.

“I became quite shaken,” Karahalios said, referring to her reaction to finding out that the owners had not been notified. She said Mayor Patty Cohen and others in city government had promised the residents that they would be told of the meeting ahead of time.

“This speaks to a very, very serious problem this city has had for a long time,” Eaton said, referring to a number of controversies over a perception that the city doesn’t communicate well with the citizens. Most recently, residents of Dillard’s Addition were upset they weren’t told about a sewer system that was built for them and they are expected to pay for.

Powers apologized for the “simple oversight.”

“It was clearly our intention to do so,” he said of the notification. “It was an oversight. It was not intentional.”

In addition, three people who own five of the properties spoke at the meeting to protest expansion of the annexation area.

Cindy Sigler said her simple annexation request would be complicated by the enlargement. “It could be tied up for years,” she said.

Frank Murphy, owner of two properties, said he realizes his property will eventually be annexed into the city, but he wants to delay that as long as possible.

“Not that it’s not a fine city and all,” he said.

In the end, the council unanimously voted to proceed with just the annexation of the Sigler property.

“I don’t think we should further disenfranchise the Siglers and hold this up any further,” Councilwoman Sheilah Crider said.

Mayor Patty Cohen and Councilman Danny Paggao were absent from the meeting.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Dec 17
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates