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Sheller Road annexation receives initial nod

An annexation request for 12 acres near Sheller Road to be included in the city of Sunnyside has impacted 12 neighboring parcels.

The result on Wednesday night was for initial approval by the Sunnyside Planning Commission of the acreage, owned by Robert Curfman, and the 12 additional parcels.

The majority rules when it comes to city annexation, since if one person owns more than 50 percent of the land in an annexed area then other property owners can be included in the annexation process.

Such is the case for Bill Mahaffy who owns Bill's Towing at 1710 Morgan Road and Lower Valley Auto Wrecking at 1720 Morgan.

"I would like to stay in the county given that the city has an adverse view of wrecking yards," Mahaffy told planning commissioners on Wednesday.

Mahaffy's properties would be annexed as general commercial, under the recommendation approved by commissioners, but wrecking yards are not an approved use in that category.

City Planner Jamey Ayling said Mahaffy could continue his business unless the properties were sold. At that time the new owner would need a conditional use permit. Planning Commissioner DeAnn Hochhalter said she thought the wrecking yard use could continue, even if the property was sold.

Either way, there was apparently little that Mahaffy could do to avoid being annexed. Ayling explained that not annexing Mahaffy as part of the Curfman request would result in an "island" of land in the county surrounded by properties in the city.

That, in turn, would likely mean the county boundary review board would require the city to include Mahaffy and the other landowners in order to avoid isolated non-annexed lands in the county.

Planning commissioners noted there are safety concerns for isolated non-annexed properties surrounded by the city. He explained that in event of an emergency aid call there could be some confusion and delayed response time.

After the boundary review board reviews the planning commission's annexation recommendation it will come back to the city council for action. Ayling said the entire annexation process will take at least four or five months.

Resident Sam Cantu asked what would be the impact on his church at Morgan Road since it is among the properties eyed for annexation along with the Curfman properties.

Ayling assured Cantu and Mahaffy they could keep their existing septic and well systems until they break down. At that time their properties would have to be converted to city sewer and water if they are within 300 feet of a sewer line.

"Just because you're being annexed doesn't mean we're going to make you abandon your existing system," Ayling said.

But the thought of potential expense for eventual water and sewer improvements and land use uncertainties caused Melvin Schwisow to decline the city's offer to annex his land at 1991 Sheller Road.

Schwisow's property lies just outside of the Curfman annexation area, but Hochhalter said she would like to have seen the area annexed.

"You know in time that's going to happen," she told Schwisow. He agreed that it's only a matter of time until annexation impacts his property, but maintained, "As long as we're happy where we are why change it?"

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