RICHLAND — Just one more city council decision is all that stands in the way of Richland annexing 1,878 new acres where a city-size development is planned.
The Richland City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the ordinance annexing the land south of Badger Mountain and just west of Rancho Reata with no discussion, except a brief thumbs up from Councilman David Rose.
"I think it's great we have a petition that is signed by 100 percent of the property owners for annexation," Rose said.
Mayor John Fox noted that's a rarity for annexations into the city.
But every ordinance takes two votes for final passage. The council will vote on the annexation again Dec. 7.
Rick Simon, the city's development services manager, said if the council approves the annexation ordinance a second time, that will be the final step toward bringing the land into the city.
It's been a process years in the making, from the city's first suggestion that it should grow to the south back in 2002.
The proposal to add 3,300 acres to Richland's urban growth area ended up going through an appeal before the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board and ultimately being scaled back before finally being approved in 2007.
The acreage annexed includes the 40-acre, 79-lot Reata Ridge subdivision; 325 acres owned by Bill and Holly Wilson primarily used as an orchard; and about 1,500 acres owned by Nor Am Investments that is to be developed with as many as 5,000 homes, shops, offices, parks and a wine village.
Simon projected that when fully developed, the area will bring in a net of about $350,000 per year to the city's budget.
Loren Combs, the attorney for Nor Am, said the developer has submitted to the city schematics for sewer lines and other improvements to the land and is waiting for the annexation to be complete and permits to be issued before breaking ground.
Houses likely will start being built in 2012, Combs said.
The land is expected to be developed for 20 years, and ultimately could be home to an estimated 12,000 people.
The council unanimously adopted an ordinance setting the city's property tax levy for 2011. The city is opting not to take the 1 percent property tax collection increase allowed by law, and is applying $400,000 of interest income from bonds to renovate the Richland Public Library toward property tax reduction.
The reduction will come over two years -- $250,000 applied in 2011 and $150,000 applied in 2012, said Ron Musson, administrative services manager.
Under that plan, the city's property tax levy rate will drop by about 12 cents, from $3.14 per $1,000 of value in 2010 to $3.02 in 2011.
That represents about a 5-cent reduction over the planned rate without the library money being applied, or a savings of about $10 per year for a $200,000 home, Musson said.
Overall, the owner of a $200,000 home should see a $24 drop in property taxes compared to 2010.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org