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High density housing recommended for former feedlot

The Sunnyside Planning Commission recommended last night, Tuesday, that nearly 17 acres at the intersection of Highway 241 and Sheller Road should be annexed into the city as high density residential property.

The land, a former cattle feedlot for the G&S Cattle Company, is owned by Neil Shelden. He told commissioners that he doesn't have a specific project in mind, but feels the land in its current state is not benefiting the tax rolls as much as it could.

The acreage is in the city's urban growth area and in related action planning commissioners recommended that Shelden's property and a neighboring two acres owned by Dick Golob be designated as residential in the city's comprehensive plan.

Both decisions followed public hearings last night and were made with a unanimous 4-0 vote. Commission chair Brent Cleghorn was absent.

Planning commissioners Stan Davis and DeAnn Hochhalter said the land is logical as a residential area, although Hochhalter expressed reservations about taking action when the airport layout plan is still in the works.

Speaking of the airport, city planner Jamey Ayling told commissioners that he had just received updated information from a consultant that showed the airport, now measuring just over 3,400 feet long, could be built out to a maximum length of 4,000 feet.

That means a buffer area of 1,000 feet, instead of 500, would be recommended by the FAA. Ayling noted, though, that the buffer measurement is ultimately up to the decision of the city.

If the city settles on a 1,000-foot buffer, then a four-acre strip of Shelden's property would be impacted, meaning that construction in that portion could be limited. Ayling also noted that the 1,000-foot buffer would extend to cover a sizable portion of 16th Street in Sunnyside.

Realtor Kenny Nelson told commissioners the airport is little used and also countered the Port of Sunnyside's previous contention that Shelden's property should be zoned industrial.

Nelson said the city already has a large amount of industrial land and needs more for housing, noting that Sunnyside residential areas could be overshadowed by industry.

"Industry provides jobs, but a home is where a job goes at night," he said. Nelson added that the Port should not be able to prevent private property from being used for its "highest and best use."

During the commission's deliberation on the issue, Hochhalter was initially hesitant about taking action because of pending litigation the city is facing from nearby property owner Don Padelford over a land use issue.

Davis countered with frustration over the city's lack of action in terms of the airport and private property in its vicinity. "We haven't done anything for a year," he said.

The recommendation for high density residential zoning now goes to the county's boundary review board before eventually proceeding to the city council.

The residential comprehensive plan recommendation will be forwarded directly to the Sunnyside City Council for consideration.

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