Richland may grow by 137 acres through annexation

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldNovember 12, 2012 

Richland may gain almost 140 acres to the south.

Some property owners in the Reata Road area are seeking to join Benton County's second-largest city through annexation.

The proposal already has cleared the city's Planning Commission and the county Boundary Review Board. The Richland City Council last week authorized the circulation of annexation petitions. Property owners representing at least 60 percent of the total assessed value of the area must sign off for the annexation to happen.

The area covers 137 acres south of Reata Road, north of Interstate 82, west of Leslie Road and east of the Kennewick Irrigation District canal. It's a largely undeveloped area that's peppered with some businesses, including storage and landscaping operations.

The area doesn't have a sewer system, which can be a barrier to development. Some property owners are interested in forming a local improvement district to finance extending the city's water and sewer services to the area. The land would need to become part of Richland for the extension to happen.

Susan McDonald, who has about 20 acres of mostly undeveloped land in the area with her husband, Steven, said she is in favor of the annexation -- and she knows other property owners who feel the same way. She and her husband want to be able to develop their land themselves or sell it, and the utilities are needed, she said.

But Steve Westermeyer, who also owns about 20 acres in area, said he doesn't want his land to become part of Richland. He has a storage business on 15 of his acres that uses septic, and he worries joining the city would mean higher taxes, including for extending utilities he doesn't need, he said.

The annexation would be one of the largest in Richland in the past few years. An annexation earlier this year brought in 52 acres along Queensgate Drive.

About 11 property owners have land in the proposed annexation area; four reached out to the city to initiate annexation proceedings.

The total assessed value of the 137 acres is $6.75 million.

About 45 acres also is subject to a proposal to amend the land-use designation from low-density residential to commercial in the city's comprehensive plan. The plan guides long-term land-use and development for the city of 49,000 people.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com

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