Pasco City Council OKs residential zoning in doughnut hole

By Michelle Dupler, Tri-City HeraldNovember 20, 2012 

The Pasco City Council voted unanimously and without discussion Monday to approve low-density residential zoning for most of about 600 acres it voted to annex Oct. 29.

The land is part of the area of Franklin County known as the "doughnut hole" -- an island of county land surrounded by the city.

The city began public discussions in July 2011 about annexing the area, which has been earmarked for future city growth since the '90s.

The doughnut hole 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. About 4,000 people live there.

Doughnut hole residents who opposed annexation collected signatures to vote on incorporating their own city called Riverview to try to block annexation.

In response, the city council voted 4-3 on June 18 to proceed with annexing a portion of the doughnut hole generally south of the Franklin County Irrigation District canal between Road 52 and Road 68. That would bring about 1,400 residents into Pasco and effectively block incorporation efforts by leaving fewer than 3,000 people -- the minimum required by state law -- in the proposed incorporation area.

The council took a final vote on the annexation Oct. 29, and the area officially will become part of the city Jan. 1.

Part of the annexation process included developing a zoning plan for the land. The city planning staff drafted a plan that mostly mirrored the existing county zoning, with the exception of a few small pockets that the city decided to zone at a lower density than the county had designated.

The area also includes 13 acres of commercial land.

At a public hearing at the planning commission in October, most of the people who testified said they thought low-density zoning was the right type for the area.

-- Also Monday, the council unanimously approved an agreement with Franklin County for municipal court space in the $21 million expansion of the county's jail and courthouse campus.

The city will have more than 10,000 square feet of space, for which the city will pay the costs of construction and have the right to occupy for 80 years. The city also will pay half the cost of construction for nearly 5,000 square feet of shared space such as restrooms and hallways and a portion of the operating costs such a maintenance and utilities.

Because the city is chipping in for construction, it will pay no rent to the county, but the county will have the option to buy the space from the city after 40 years. Otherwise, the space transfers to the county at the end of the 80-year term.

The city's construction costs are expected to total about $3.8 million.

The two-story building containing the municipal court also is planned to house the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, dispatch center and information services.

The project also includes a renovation and expansion of the Franklin County jail. Construction is being funded by a 30-year, 0.3 percent sales tax increase voters approved in 2011.

-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; mdupler@tricityherald.com

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