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Sunnyside annexation projects at a standstill

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Through a joint effort with Yakima County, Sunnyside city officials are looking at annexing an area of land near the cemetery into the city.

Two significant annexation projects by the City of Sunnyside are sort of at a standstill, said Pete Squires, planning and community development director.

Last year, the city began the initial phases of looking at annexing two areas into Sunnyside. The first of the projects is known as the Northeast Annexation. The project is a partnership with Yakima County to annex the areas north of Beckner Alley, east of Cemetery Road, west of Washout Road and north of Woodin Road into the Sunnyside city limits. The other annexation project deals with 125 acres along State Route 241 and Sheller Road in the area of the Sunnyside Municipal Airport. The property is owned by Don Padelford.

The Northeast Annexation would involve the City of Sunnyside and Yakima County partnering to improve the area. The plan is to have the county upgrade the roads in the area while the city would provide water and sewer access, but only after the properties were annexed into Sunnyside.

"We have backed off on our fast track schedule for it," said Squires.

Squires said the reason the timeline has been scaled back to complete the annexation project is mainly because of grant applications. Squires said there have been some delays in getting the grant applications submitted. Squires said the grant applications have centered around finding additional funds to help with the cost of installing curbs and gutters, as well as other improvements to make sure the project is done right. Squires said the city is also seeking funds to help with the cost of installing water and sewer lines to residents in that area.

Yakima County Commissioner Jesse Palacios initially brought the partnership idea for the Northeast Annexation before the Sunnyside City Council in June 2003. At an October meeting with county residents in the area, Palacios reiterated the need for the collaborative project, which he saw as a great benefit to the citizens of the area. At the meeting, Palacios expressed a need for county residents to hook-up to city utilities because of failing septic systems in the area, which pose health problems.

"The benefit of the project is not really to the city, but more to the residents who live out there," said Squires.

Squires said the project will vastly improve the quality of life for those residents.

"It is an annexation for all the right purposes," said Squires.

City officials will be meeting with Yakima County officials in February to discuss the Northeast Annexation project even further.

Squires said plans to annex the Sheller Road area property owned by Padelford are not so clear right now.

"It is a little bit in limbo," said Squires.

Squires said Padelford had met with most of the residents in the area to try and obtain their signatures to move ahead with the annexation process.

"Apparently not very many of them were interested," said Squires.

Squires said without the backing of the rest of the residents in the area it will be hard to move forward with the project. Even though Padelford is looking at annexing 125 acres of his own property, Squires said the annexation would be more effective if the surrounding neighbors also agreed.

"If we are going to do it, we want to do it right," said Squires.

Squires said there are also some land concern issues regarding the Padelford annexation that need to be worked out.

The major benefit of the Padelford annexation is that the city airport would no longer be an island. The airport is owned by the city, but is surrounded on all sides by Yakima County property.

Squires, along with Interim City Manager Mark Kunkler, are scheduled to meet near the end of the month with Padelford to further discuss the project.

. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at mkantman@eaglenewspapers.com

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