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Sunnyside councilmen reject housing proposal for SR-241/Factory Rd.

A proposal to build 190 homes at SR-241 and Factory Road was turned away by the Sunnyside City Council Monday night.

The decision sided with the city's planning commission, which twice recommended denial of the plan. Instead, the planning commission recommended the property be developed for industrial use.

The vote ran counter to appeals from city staff to annex the land for residential housing even though the area was previously designated for industrial use.

The Bonny family owns the 47.68 acres under consideration. The family's realtor, Tom Biehl, explained that the Bonnys put the land on the market two years ago and had no takers from industrial users. The only interested buyers, he added, were residential developers.

The Bonnys have owned the property for 60 years and were set to sell the land to Aho Construction for home development.

A steady stream of comments both for and against residential development at the site followed during a public hearing.

"I can list as many reasons for turning this down as there are children who will live there," said Factory Road resident David Downing, citing dangers from truck traffic and a nearby irrigation ditch.

The theme of traffic hazards-particularly from heavy truck usage on SR-241-was a constant in comments against the residential plan, which could result in dense population and vehicle growth.

It was noted by one opponent of the Bonny plan that four accidents took place at the intersection in the month of June alone. "I stopped counting after that," he said.

"I'm not against developing the area, but keep a strip of industrial area as a buffer and go with half-acre ranchettes (instead of the residential density proposed)," offered Ed Werkhoven, a neighboring landowner and business owner.

Safety issues were also expressed by a nearby farmer, who cited wandering "kids and dogs" as the primary concerns.

"Our family's been here 60 some years," said a frustrated Marvin Bonny. "I don't see how they can tell us what we can do with our property."

Another Bonny family member noted they did not speak in opposition when the current industrial development at SR-241 and Factory Road was first proposed.

Sunnyside City Manager Bob Stockwell reminded council and the public that the Bonny land is in the city's urban growth area, meaning that growth was anticipated for the SR-241 and Factory Road area.

Stockwell added that improvements in the area such as traffic lights and road widening will only occur as the SR-241 and Factory Road area is developed.

Following the public hearing, Councilwoman Theresa Hancock and newly sworn-in council member Carol Stone both agreed that council faced a tough decision.

While noting the Bonny family's contributions to the community, Hancock said she was concerned about the safety of children who would be living in the large residential development.

Mayor Ed Prilucik said his mind was only made up after hearing public comment.

"I think the planning commission was right in its decision," said Prilucik. Added councilman Jim Restucci, "They (planning commission members) spent more time on this than we have and they turned it down twice."

A motion was then made, and approved unanimously, to annex the Bonny property as industrial use rather than residential.

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