The Sunnyside City Council last night approved the annexation of nine parcels on East Edison Road near the Sunnyside Airport. But after hearing from dairy farmers living near Sunnyview Park, the council gave that annexation a 4-3 thumbs down vote.
Dairy farmer Joe Rollinger was the first to tell council he was concerned about the possible annexation of Sunnyview Park and nearby property owned by Gregg Marrs.
Although the zoning for the property would not change and Marrs wishes to operate Blueline Equipment, a farming equipment dealership, Rollinger was concerned the city would be encroaching on farm land if the annexation was approved.
"The city is not adhering to the original agreement (signed when Sunnyside purchased the property from Yakima County)," Rollinger told the city council, explaining access to the park on Alexander Road was intended only for emergency personnel. He said visitors to the park are parking on Alexander Road when the gates are locked. The parking hinders movement of farming equipment on the roadway.
Rollinger also was concerned the city's annexation might lead to further development in that area in the future. He said the county approved housing in the area, and coupled with several other incidents in the three generations his family has farmed near the location of Sunnyview Park there are now concerns of encroachment.
"When you bring the city out into the country, I feel you are encroaching," said Rollinger.
He said he felt the city was making an exception, in terms of the annexation, on behalf of one property owner, not considering the impact to other properties in the vicinity.
Rollinger added he felt the annexation would lead the city to later consider annexations between Sunnyview Park and the current city limits. That would, in turn, lead to water and sewer lines...paving the way for residential development.
He said dairy farmers already must comply with several regulations, including those set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act. If property surrounding his dairy is developed, Rollinger said, there would be further concerns for farmers like him because with urbanization comes complaints.
"They complain about the flies, they complain about the smell," he stated.
Rollinger also said he felt the city would be creating an island with the proposed annexation.
Rollinger's brother, Chuck, spoke to the Sunnyside City Council, as well.
He and his brother want their dairy farms, which are approaching century farm status, to remain in their respective families.
"My father started dealing with encroachment in the 1960s...the family keeps an eye on what the city is doing and how it affects us," said Rollinger.
"You're a mile out...(Sunnyview Park) is beyond the practical reach of the city," he added, stating he believes the city would not be making a wise decision if it annexed the three parcels of land slated in the "Sunnyview Park Annexation."
Councilman Mike Farmer said he agreed with the Rollingers. "If we approve (the annexation), we're taking one more step toward them."
He said the impact might not be felt by the family in the immediate future, but it leads the way toward a future impact.
Councilman Pablo Garcia disagreed, stating, "What we're doing here today is to preserve what already exists...a park and a business."
He said future impact would be dependent upon future property owners and those in charge of zoning.
The annexation of Sunnyview Park and the Blueline Equipment property failed by a 4-3 vote. Councilmen Farmer and Tom Gehlen, Mayor Jim Restucci and Mayor Pro Tem Nick Paulakis all dissented. Council members Theresa Hancock, Don Vlieger and Garcia all voted to adopt the ordinance to annex the properties.
The annexation of nine properties near the Sunnyside Airport was not met with as much discussion.
Both annexations were before the council for final approval, and the Sunnyside City Council did not receive comment or objection to the annexation on East Edison Road, which consists of 42.41 acres.
The properties annexed will be zoned for light industrial use or urban residential agricultural use.
That annexation was approved unanimously.