MABTON - The Mabton City Council Tuesday night moved to adopt the findings of fact and the requested zoning designations from the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments (YVCOG) to annex 195 acres into the city. The council made the motion after hearing from approximately 15 people at a public hearing on the proposed annexation.
The 195 acres of land to be annexed includes 37 parcels of land located between the existing city limits and extending to Allison Road, the Northwest Horticulture properties, the old school building property directly north of State Route 22 and Mabton School District property parcel number 230931-43001.
Councilman Mario Martinez recused himself from the public hearing because he owns some of the property planned to be annexed.
Michael Buchanan, senior planning advisor at YVCOG, told the board the annexation was a good idea because public use and interest will be served. He noted the 195 acres is currently urbanized and is designated as residential, commercial and industrial zones in Yakima County.
The proposed annexation is located within the Mabton urban growth area and is consistent with the Mabton comprehensive plan and the Mabton zoning code, he said.
Reading from a report, Buchanan said the annexation will provide opportunities for all citizens in Mabton to obtain affordable, safe and sanitary housing and encourage the development of a varied housing stock in Mabton.
He also said the city of Mabton has sufficient water and sewer capacity for the proposed annexation.
Councilman Angel Reyna asked Buchanan if people living in the soon to be annexed area that are being serviced by a different power company than the city uses would have to change to the power company that supplies the city of Mabton.
Buchanan said he did not know and that question should be directed towards the power companies.
One person who owns land in the proposed area asked Mabton Mayor Velva Herrera about hooking up to the city's sewer system if they already have a septic tank.
She responded that everyone who has existing homes with septic tanks with be grandfathered in and they will be able to keep using their septic systems.
However, if their septic systems were to fail, she said, then the residents would have to hook up to the city sewer system.
The resident wanted to know who would pay for this.
The mayor said she was unsure if the cost would be bore by the city or by the resident.
Buchanan said there are state and federal grants available that can help low income people hook up to the city's water and sewer system.
Teresa Vargas, who owns a parcel of land in the area to be annexed, asked if she will still have to pay the Roza Irrigation District for water.
The mayor said she didn't know about that.
Another person who owns land in the area, Terry Harvey, asked the council what the cost would be to hook up to the city's water and sewer systems if it was determined the resident would have to bear the cost.
The mayor said she didn't have a figure.
"We're having this public hearing so we can find these things out," Herrera reminded the people in attendance.
Bill Roettger, a resident of Mabton, asked if the water lines to the proposed residential area will be updated and who will pay for that.
Buchanan said grant funds are available for these kinds of projects and this situation would be a good subject for a grant application.
"It should be pretty favorable," he said.
Roettger then asked if fire hydrants would be installed and the mayor said that was something the council will look into.
Sarah Trejo, who owns land in the area, asked about future development and who will be responsible for water and sewer hook ups.
Buchanan said the developer will bear the costs for any new development.
Mary Ramirez asked about her animals. She was worried she wouldn't be able to have her livestock any longer if the city annexed her land.
The mayor reminded her that all residents affected by the annexation are under a grandfather clause and she can still use her land for her animals.
Reyna told Ramirez if she continues to keep livestock on her property it will be OK, but if she were to discontinue keeping livestock, she wouldn't be able to start again in the future.
Buchanan asked what an acre of land in Mabton would cost. Someone said $5,000.
Buchanan explained the city of Mabton allows an acre to be split into a maximum of 10 lots. He also said a developed lot, with water and sewer services and on a city street, routinely sells for $23,500 in Yakima County.
It was asked who would respond to calls for help, the Yakima County Sheriff's Office or the Mabton Police Department.
The mayor said the Mabton Police Department would respond to all calls.
Buchanan said the next step in the annexation process is for the city assessor to review the petition for annexation and there is a 45-day review period after the application has been submitted. He said the city could annex the land as early as three months from now.