Urban growth is always a tricky issue.
Development has to be balanced with infrastructure needs, quality of life issues and job creation.
What we want our cities to look like is delicate question, and we entrust our city leaders to make the best decisions for our community now and in the future.
Laws to manage growth are in place for a reason, to protect our communities from out-of-control growth and evaluate potential developments. But sometimes the laws can get in the way of positive things for our cities.
A case in point in Kennewick will -- with any luck -- be remedied by a bill being considered in the Senate.
Kennewick's mayor says the city has lost out on three opportunities to bring businesses to the area because it lacks developed industrial land.
Mayor Steve Young is hoping the proposed bill will change that, helping to make land in south Kennewick available for development now. And that means the potential for thousands of new jobs in the community, which is always a positive thing.
The way our state's Growth Management Act is written, counties determine city limits and what land can be developed. Right now, Benton County only makes those determinations every five years.
The proposed bill, sponsored by Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, and Sen. Mike Hewitt,R-Walla Walla, would let Benton, Yakima and Spokane counties ask to develop land for industrial purposes at any time. In theory, that should help Kennewick get its 800 acres into development more quickly, rather than waiting for the next 5-year review.
It's not clear whether Benton County would be willing to make those challenging and time-consuming decisions more frequently, or if it would see fit to allow the land to be developed at all. But getting the law changed would at least give Kennewick a chance. And we believe Benton County would see this project as a worthwhile and fitting endeavor for the city.
Kennewick has plans for 100-acre industrial plots on the land, which is currently being used as a dryland wheat farm. That would double the city's pool of industrial land. Then it would be up to Kennewick to find suitable companies that are willing to locate here and create jobs in the process.
Of course, anti-growth groups are against the Senate bill, and have testified to that end.
Young says county officials have told him they favor the bill, as it would free them up to take Kennewick's request under immediate consideration without a costly investigation. Other area mayors also see the value of the bill, he said.
Modifying the Growth Management Act to allow for more frequent reviews of industrial development projects sounds like a good way to help Washington's economy. And if the bill passes and Benton County gives its blessing, we're sure Kennewick's leaders will waste no time finding funds to develop the land and recruit tenants to the proposed industrial park.