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S'side Planning Commission approves three annexation requests

After waiting more than two years to become a part of the City of Sunnyside, Gordan and Rhoda Giffen of McLean Road may finally get their wish.

Last night, the Sunnyside Planning Commission, which held three public hearings regarding to annexation requests, agreed to forward the couple's request to the State Boundary Review Board for Yakima County.

The Planning Commission, meeting at the Sunnyside Law and Justice Center on Homer Avenue, took comments from the public regarding the Giffens' request before voting to give the request its stamp of approval.

The McLean Road property owners and their daughter-in-law, Lucille Giffen, are seeking the inclusion of their five-acre piece of property into the city limits, which is located at the southwest corner of McLean and Alexander roads, located within the Sunnyside Port District. The area is scheduled to be zoned M-2 for heavy industrial development.

The Giffens began their quest to be included within the city limits nearly two years ago. However, the request was shelved in 2001 when the state Supreme Court declared any annexation which used the petition method was unconstitutional, explained Mark Kunkler, Sunnyside city attorney.

Historically, annexation requests required that property owners in the area being considered must all agree to the request. Kunkler said the Court Justices felt the system didn't take into consideration the desires of other residents living in the area. "They reversed themselves in January 2004," he said.

In the meantime, the State Legislature has amended the state statute to require annexation petitions to have at least 50 percent approval signatures from the property owners, as well as at least 50 percent of the registered voters approval living in the area before it can be considered for annexation.

Both changes occurred earlier this year, Kunkler said, which has prompted a steady increase in new annexation requests, as well as re-submissions of annexation requests such as the Giffens, he explained.

Kunkler said the Giffens had previously received the Planning Commission's approval, but the city elected to put all annexations on hold until new annexation statutes were developed.

Only Jill Nettleton of Alexander Road voiced any concerns. Nettleton urged the commissioners to ensure that such issues as weed control and proper buffer zones be a part of any future development in the area. Commission Chair Jim Warren assured Nettleton that the buffer and weeds and other issues involved in future developments would fall under the city's landscaping and ordinances and property management regulations.

The Planning Commission also approved a previously submitted request for annexation into the city by the Sunnyside Port District.

Kunkler said the Port was seeking to annex 38 areas of property located on the northeast corner of Alexander and McLean roads, which is already surrounded by city limits. "The Port's request was also put on hold in 2001," he said, adding that area will also be zoned M-2.

There was no comments from the public regarding the Port's request. It too will be forwarded to the Boundary Review Board.

The Planning Commission also approved a request from Don Padelford of Sheller Road, who seeks to have five aces of property located at the end of the Sunnyside Airport runway included in the city boundaries. Following the public hearing on the Padelford request, the commissioners could forward his request to the review board.

The Padelford property is located at the northeast corner of Highway 241 and Edison Avenue, and is within the city's urban growth plan, Kunkler said.

. Julia Hart can be contacted at

(509) 837-4500, or you can e-mail her at jhart@eaglenewspapers.com

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