Doughnut hole residents have petition to become new city

By John Trumbo, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 26, 2012 

More than 900 residents of rural Pasco in the Riverview area say they're ready to call themselves a city.

A petition for incorporating the Riverview Island area will be presented to Franklin County officials next week, said Roger Lenk, a member of the Citizens for Lifestyle Preservation.

The citizen group's incorporation effort is a grass-roots response to the city of Pasco's attempts to annex the area, believed to have about 4,000 residents.

The area generally is south of Argent Road between Road 100 on the west and Road 44 to the east, and Sylvester and Court streets to the south.

Lenk said in a news release Tuesday that the proposed new city called Riverview would have 1,640 homes, pastures and farms.

The county area that would become a city is considered a doughnut hole because it is surrounded by the city of Pasco.

Lenk said the petition for incorporation will be submitted to Franklin County Auditor Matt Beaton, with an electronic copy also going to county commissioners.

All 900 signatures on the petition are from registered voters living in the Riverview area, Lenk said.

He said the signatures are 225 percent more than the number required, though he did not say how many were needed. He said the signatures represent 80 percent of the number of Riverview area residents who voted in the Aug. 7 election.

In a related move, Citizens for Lifestyle Preservation has filed a lawsuit in Franklin County Superior Court to block the city's annexation.

Lenk said members of the group reviewed the city's documents claiming it had sufficient utility agreements from doughnut hole property owners to trigger the annexation.

Lenk claims Pasco has not met the state requirement that allows a city to initiate an annexation without a vote of property owners if at least 10 percent of assessed valuation has signed agreements with the city to use municipal utilities.

Lenk said he also believes Pasco will fall short for the same reasons on meeting the 60 percent requirement for utility agreements, which is needed to complete an annexation with that method.

"We believe 30 percent of the city's records were defective, not notarized when required or improperly signed," Lenk said.

Stan Strebel, Pasco's deputy city manager, said the city's attorney is reviewing the lawsuit.

Strebel said the annexation effort was progressing, with the annexation fact committee doing a careful review.

Pasco officials announced a year ago the city's intent to annex the 4-square-mile Riverview Island area using authority granted by utility agreements with residents who wanted city water and sewer connections.

Pasco officials also had attempted a different strategy allowed by state law, which was to negotiate an annexation agreement with Franklin Fire District 3 and Franklin County.

The city and fire district had discussions, but county officials rejected the move after some of the residents complained.

Auditor Beaton said once the incorporation petitions are submitted, his staff will check to verify the signatures are from registered voters in Franklin County and that there are enough of them.

-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; jtrumbo@tricityherald.com

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