MABTON - The city of Mabton is in the process of annexing what city administrator Ildia Jackson anticipates will be the largest acreage in the town's history.
Jackson said a public hearing on the environmental review of the land in question will be held Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the city council chambers.
As part of the annexation, Jackson said the city will be adding the Northwest Horticulture Inc. building and 60 acres surrounding it, to the taxable property in Mabton.
"From day-one it was their intention to annex into the city," Jackson said of the wholesale nursery. "They already receive city water."
Mabton has been working on the annexation for the past three years, but Jackson said that questions about the state's petition method of annexation left the city without the additional tax base.
According to Bruce Gibson, Vice President of Northwest Horticulture, Inc., a Mt. Vernon based company, it has been a mutual agreement with the City of Mabton since before construction on the local facility, that the property would be annexed into the city.
"The petition was first started three years ago," said Gibson. "We signed the petition and we think it would be the best thing for the facility in Mabton."
Jackson said there was question as to if the petition method was legal since the owner with the highest property value could also require other property owners to annex into the city limits. Jackson said they began preparing an annexation for the property based on the election method.
"Our city attorney called and told us to stop because the issue was being decided by the Supreme Court," said Jackson.
Under the election method annexations would have been decided by an election of neighbors, but Jackson said there was question about how businesses would represent themselves in an election.
Jackson said with the annexation, the greenhouse will bring into the city in excess of $100,000 in property taxes alone. Also part of the annexation will be about 20 homes, which also currently use the city's water and sewer system.
Jackson said the homes were grandfathered into the town.
"They are served out there by line from the 1930s," said Jackson, who added that the city plans to upgrade the pipes once the houses are brought into the city limits. She said the homes will receive better water pressure once the repairs are made.
The homes slated for annexation are between Sixth and Allison streets and South and Maple streets in Mabton.
Also being annexed is the old Mabton High School building, which belongs to developers Paul Purcell and Les Tonkin. Jackson said that Purcell and Tonkin submitted the request for annexation this summer, but it had been held off so that all of the annexations could be filed at the same time.
Along with the old high school, a piece of land belonging to the Mabton School District will also be annexed, said Jackson. There are no plans to develop anything on the school district's property, but Jackson said the annexation will make it so water and sewer hook-ups are available later.
Jackson said the Mabton City Council will also be considering allowing property owner Harold Clark to sub-divide a strip of land along South Street between Sixth and Allison streets. Jackson said Clark is proposing to divide the property, which is currently zoned residential, into 12 lots. The Mabton City Council will be looking at the subdivision plans for the first time Tuesday.