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Port of Kennewick, West Richland work to ready former Tri-City Raceway for wine production

Annexing a future industrial wine development into the city of West Richland could be almost anticlimactic.

The city succeeded in adding the former Tri-City Raceway property into its urban growth area, with the change becoming final last month.

And last week, the city delivered the documents needed to begin the annexation process with the former raceway’s owner, the Port of Kennewick.

Nicole Stickney, West Richland’s planning and economic development manager, told port commissioners that the annexation process should be fairly straightforward, with a direct petition from the two property owners of the 94 acres — the port and the Benton Rural Electric Association, which has a substation on the property.

Benton REA supported the urban growth area expansion, and officials have said the utility has the capacity to serve a wine development at the former raceway.

The former raceway is off Highway 224 near Keene Road, strategically near the Red Mountain wine grape growing area and the proposed Red Mountain interchange on Interstate 82.

The port’s ability to develop the former raceway for wine production and related uses hinged on getting the property into the city’s urban growth area. That was the only way city sewer and water — which is at the edge of the raceway property — could be extended to serve whatever businesses open in the new development.

Now that the property is in the city’s urban growth area, it can be annexed into the city.

The petition for annexation would need to go before the city planning commission, which will make a recommendation to city council, Stickney said. The council will have the final decision, although if the decision is appealed, it would go to the Benton County Boundary Review Board.

Zoning would need to be set, which likely would be commercial and light industrial, Stickney said. It’s currently zoned industrial.

The process could take a couple months as long as there are no appeals, she said.

Larry Peterson, the port’s director of planning and development, said the port has started on a laundry list of tasks that must be completed before the property is ready for development.

Port commissioners budgeted $25,000 for those tasks, which aren’t necessarily pricey, but will take some time to get approval. On the list are finishing a master plan for the site and gaining the permissions needed for road and highway access to the property.