Westview residents oppose 81 acre annexation

"Residents of the Westview Community don't want to pay the price of being annexed into the city. A local developer wants to brings his land into the city to provide services for proposed low-income housing.Members of the Oak Harbor City Council found themselves in a conundrum Tuesday night in trying to please both sides while following city development rules.Local developer William Massey and wife Kathleen asked the city over a year ago to annex nearly 50 acres of county land at the northeast corner of Crosby and Heller roads. They own about 27 acres of the land. They haven't officially proposed any projects for the site, but Massey told the council he plans to build a PUD - a planned urban development - and donate some of the land to Habitat for Humanity, a group that helps provide housing for low-income families.The trouble with the annexation proposal is that the 50-acre parcel is not completely contiguous with city limits and would create an enclave or a big chunk of county property completely surrounded by city land. This is prohibited, or at least strongly discouraged, by both the city's Comprehensive Plan and the state's Growth Management Act. Such enclaves are among the most grevious incarnations of a much-maligned thing called urban sprawl since they cause the over-extension of city services and disorderly growth in general. The city could leave itself open to a lawsuit if councilors do allow the creation of an enclave.To fix the problem, the city council added the enclave area - about 31 acres southeast of the corner of Crosby and Heller - to the original annexation request to create one big, 81-acre parcel proposed for annexation. But the people who live in the Westview Community, the 31 acres southeast of Crosby and Heller, don't want to be annexed into the city. Many of them said so - loud and clear - at the council meeting.We all have our own fully-functioning septic system, our own water system which gives us much better quality water than you get in the city... We say we don't need city services, said Brian Baker, president of the Westview Community Association.Baker estimated that it would cost someone with a modestly-priced home more than $16,600 to hook up to city water and sewer, including late-comer fees and the actual cost of extending the lines. He pointed out that many of the residents are retired and live on fix incomes.The owners of at least 60 percent of assessed value of the entire 81-acre parcel would have to agree to the annexation by signing a petition in order for it to happen. City Planner Tom Burdett said he isn't sure whether there are enough people who want the annexation for it to work.Councilman John LaFond pointed out that residents won't be obliged to connect to city water if they are annexed into the city, though they would have to connect to the city's sanitary sewer within 10 years of coming into the city.The councilors discussed the possibility of waiving this requirement to hook up to the sewer system, but City Attorney Phil Bleyhl advised against.LaFond also point out that the entire annexation area is located within the city's so-called urban growth area, identified under the city's comprehensive plan, which is supposed to come into the city within the next ten years anyway.In the end, the councilman decided to circulate the annexation petition to all of the land owners and also instructed staff to look into the issue of waiving the sewer hook-up requirement.Circulation of the petition is just the intermediate step in the annexation process. After the city gets the petition back - and if it's signed by landowners who own 60 percent of the land value - then the city will hold a public hearing before deciding whether or not to annex. "

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