A request from Kennewick officials to add more than 1,200 acres to the city's urban growth area for future industrial projects heads to the Benton County Planning Commission tonight.
A public hearing on the request is scheduled during the commission's 7 p.m. meeting in Prosser.
The land -- totaling about 1,263 acres -- is south of Interstate 82 and west of Highway 395.
It's currently designated for agriculture, although it isn't actively farmed, and city officials say the land's location and topography make it ideal for industrial development. It's flat, and "with the highway access right there, it's a huge draw for someone to come in and develop it," said Evelyn Lusignan, city spokeswoman.
Lusignan said the city has budgeted money to extend water and sewer infrastructure across I-82 to the edge of the proposed expansion area, and the state has allocated some money for an access road to the area.
The city has a shortage of land available for industrial development, and adding the 1,263 acres to the urban growth area would help address that, Kennewick officials have said. And they've said the industrial development would create jobs and boost the local economy, benefiting not only Kennewick but the entire Tri-City area.
"Our No. 1 priority is the creation of jobs," Kennewick Mayor Steve Young told the Herald last November, when the city council voted unanimously to ask Benton County for the urban growth expansion.
The final decision rests with Benton County commissioners.
The planning commission's role is to make a recommendation, which will be forwarded onto commissioners. The planning commission could settle on a recommendation tonight or at a future session if members want more time.
Carl Adrian, president of the Tri-City Development Council, or TRIDEC, wrote a letter this summer supporting the proposed urban growth expansion, saying "the area south of the interstate is truly unique in the community and would add a new dimension for industrial development creation of non-Hanford job opportunities."
Others have concerns about the request, including the statewide land-use advocacy group Futurewise, which argues the city already has enough land for future growth and the expansion would mean the unnecessary loss of farmland to make way for urban development.
The county planning commission meets in the planning annex at 1002 Dudley Ave.
-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @saraTCHerald