News

City still wants to add Goldie Road

The owner of an Oak Harbor hotel recently asked permission from the city to begin the process of annexing a small piece of land into the city in order to build unique apartment buildings.

But instead of either denying or approving the request, members of the Oak Harbor city council have opened up a completely different can of worms. They’ve asked planning staff to look at annexing a much larger piece of the Goldie Road industrial area into the city.

It’s an issue that city leaders have been talking about for years. Several city council members, most notably Paul Brewer, have been pushing to annex the Goldie Road area as a way to increase city revenue through more sales and property tax. Goldie Road, located on the north end of Oak Harbor, is populated by many light industrial-type businesses and some of the largest businesses on the island, including Upchurch Scientific.

Councilwoman Sheilah Crider also pointed out that coming into the city could be a boon to some businesses. She said the manager of Upchurch asked “many times” to come into the city in order to get city services.

In fact, the city was in the process of investigating annexation and potential boundaries on Goldie when the state Supreme Court put a wrinkle in the plans early this year. The court ruled that annexation by petition method, by far the most common way cities annex property, was unconstitutional.

That leaves only the election method for annexation. Under this mode, people who live within an annexation boundary — whether they rent or own — would vote on an annexation in an election.

At a Dec. 17 meeting, Randy Bradford, manager of the Coachman Inn, asked city council members to hold an election for the annexation of a chunk of property adjacent to the hotel. The so-called Easy Street annexation is located on the south side of Easy Street, which is near Goldie Road.

Bradford explained that hotel plans to construct extended-stay suites, which are apartments that people can rent on a month-to-month basis. He said the group of proposed buildings would be “similar to four-plex units.”

There are six registered voters in the area who could vote in the annexation election.

City Attorney Phil Bleyhl warned the council that working on the annexation election, if passed, would take besieged staff members away from other important projects.

Brewer, however, questioned whether this might be a good time to annex the entire Goldie Road area, or at least a large piece of it, into the city through the election method. There are about a dozen people living in the entire Goldie Road area.

Councilman Bob Morrison pointed out that the city may make money in the long run by investing an an annexation election now.

“I would hate to defer this issue again,” Crider said.

On the other hand, Bleyhl estimated that it would take up to 100 hours of staff time, plus other expenses, to do such an election. He said the city would need to hire extra staff to do an educational outreach and print up brochures explaining the effects of an annexation.

“What’s confronting us,” City Administrator Thom Myers said, “is the limitation of staff to go out and do the annexation.”

In the end, Development Services Director Steve Powers agreed to look at potential boundaries and older studies on the issue in order to get a rough idea of what the annexation would take. He’ll report back at the Jan. 21 meeting.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-1166.

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