Pasco took another step forward Monday in its efforts to annex county land west of Road 80 by establishing zoning that is most comparable with existing land uses and development patterns for the area.
City council members voted 6-1 in favor of RS-20 zoning, which is in 97 percent of the proposed annexation area.
Councilman Tom Larsen had the lone dissenting vote, saying he is “against forcing people to use their property by what the city or anyone else wants to do.”
Many residents in the affected area wanted to keep the minimum lot size at 20,000 square feet per home, though some asked the council to lock in the agreement for at least 20 years.
The ordinance approved by the council set a five-year period on the low-density residential zoning.
The city wanted “to provide zoning certainty” for the county residents in advance of the annexation vote. The second public hearing on the proposed annexation is June 15, after which council members are set to decide if the city will welcome new residents.
The area proposed to be annexed includes 688 acres of unincorporated county land in what is commonly referred to as the doughnut hole. It includes more than 400 homes, along with McLoughlin Middle School and Ruth Livingston Elementary School.
Steve Schlegel — a member of the city’s fact-finding committee as it started this annexation process — said Monday that if the council wasn’t going to go with a 20-year zoning time frame, he “strongly suggested” they split the difference at 10 years to help preserve the lifestyles of those property owners for a long time.
Bill Venema, who lives on West Court Street in the proposed area, said he has watched for more than two decades as the city has slowly annexed county land into west Pasco. He said even a five-year limit is too long because the city never knows what kinds of changes can occur in that time frame.
“I’ve watched people really get upset because they really think their style of life is going to be changing. Lives always change, and what happens to land is always changing also,” he said.
Venema said slapping unrealistic expectations on land development ends up curtailing the services that are going to be available.
“Another reason I’m concerned is because when you limit what you can do with land, you also limit the kind of folks that can live there. If you keep this in large parcels then you’re ruling out diversification of your city,” he said. “Zoning contributes to those kind of barriers.”
Mayor pro-tem Rebecca Francik said setting the zoning at 20 years may tie the hands of people who want to develop their property, so she is comfortable with five years.