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Annexation delayed in Mabton

MABTON - Due to an error in the wording in a notice sent to residents who will be impacted if the Allison Road annexation goes through, another public hearing will be held.

The error was discovered during a public hearing at last night's regular city council meeting. After recusing himself as a councilman, Mario Martinez joined the crowd to speak as a resident regarding the annexation.

Martinez owns Renaissance Investment Group, which owns acreage that is up for annexation.

During his presentation, Martinez expressed concern that the letter sent to property owners said that the land to be annexed would be zoned rural-residential.

Rural-residential zoning amounts to 2.5 acres per single household if a home were to be built.

"Zoning the land rural residential doesn't comply with the Urban Growth Plan," Martinez said.

Yakima Valley Conference of Governments Senior Planner Michael Buchanan explained that the city does not have a zone called rural-residential, but the county does.

City Attorney Jack Maxwell suggested that council send out a letter modifying the wording to be more accurate, so that residents understand Mabton's residential zones are only R1 and R2; R1 means five dwellings per acre and R2 allows for duplexes.

Buchanan looked over the materials regarding the Allison Road annexation and noticed that only two property owners signed the petition: one of which was Northwest Horticulture. Sixty percent of the property to be annexed must be approved by the owners, and the two petitioners do account for that amount with regard to acreage.

But, Buchanan said that he believed that according to the law, a vote would be required by all registered voters living in the area to be annexed. He said one possible way to avoid a vote is for residents to come into city hall, write down their parcel number, and whether or not they approve the annexation.

He suggested Mayor Velva Herrera call the county auditor to find out if that's correct and what steps to take next in that regard.

Northwest Horticulture representative Warren Banner spoke on behalf of the company to let council know they are in support of the annexation. He also said he would like to see a zoning change from light industrial to accurately reflect their business, which is agriculture. This would lower Northwest Horticulture's taxation.

Property owner Dan Churchill owns acreage in the proposed annexation area and he asked council about infrastructure. Families who currently live in the area to be annexed use wells and septic tanks.

His question was whether or not it would fall on him to pay for infrastructure (water and sewer) should he build homes on his property. He also asked that if property owners who use wells and septics were grandfathered in, would they be required to pay for infrastructure if the well or septic failed.

Mabton does not have a plan in place to pay for infrastructure should the property become annexed.

Buchanan explained to council that because the Renaissance Investment Group and Northwest Horticulture are contiguous with city limits, it is possible to annex in their properties, but leave an "island" of other property owners that would not be annexed. He did say that should that occur, it would then be up to the Boundary Review Board to either let that stand, or force those residents into the annexation.

Now that a new letter must be sent, another public hearing will be held at a later time.

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