'Doughnut hole' residents say they don't want to be part of city

Some county residents wanted to make sure Pasco City Council members know what they think about annexation of their property into the city before discussions begin.

About 13 "doughnut hole" residents told city council members Monday that they didn't want to be part of the city, accompanied by the applause of most of the 40 people present.

Pasco, Franklin County and Franklin Fire District 3 are beginning talks about a planned annexation of about two miles of county land surrounded by city property using a new process that allows an interlocal agreement between all three to set up a schedule and conditions for annexation.

A representative from each is expected to meet today to discuss the issue. Most of the doughnut hole is between Sylvester Street and Argent Road and Roads 52 and 100.

Doug Gould, one of the 4,000 residents within the doughnut hole, said he thinks the city should look at a different means of annexation.

"I'm not necessarily against annexation," he said. "I am just against forced annexation."

Janet Johnson said the state is the one that caused the problem by making a mistake when it created the process the city is trying to use to annex the doughnut hole. But it's the city's choice to try to use it.

The city already can annex two portions of the doughnut hole under an older process because those landowners holding 60 percent or more of the assessed property value already have signed an agreement to not oppose annexation when they hooked up to city water.

Roger Bettencourt said he thought the water agreements were "lowdown trickery."

"I feel my liberties have been taken away from me by the city of Pasco and the county," Bettencourt said.

A negotiated agreement does not use the water agreements. The city required people to sign agreements when connecting to the city water system that they would not oppose annexation after the city purchased the private system in 1991, said Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield.

"They got water. We got the annexation commitment," he said.

Some residents expressed concern about being able to keep their animals and a change in their way of life.

The city allows farm animals under the same conditions as the county, although fowl or rabbits are capped at 40, said Rick White, city community and economic development director. And nonconforming uses can continue after annexation and by subsequent owners of the property.

Mayor Matt Watkins said the city council will be trying to figure out what would work best for the entire community. He encouraged the public to watch and participate in the process.

Also Monday:

The city council approved 5 to 1 supporting a draft legislative plan that keeps Pasco and Franklin County together in the 9th District. Councilman Tom Larsen opposed the resolution.

With that plan, suggested by Commissioner Dean Foster of the Washington State Restricting Commission, the 9th District would not include any of Yakima County and instead would include all of Benton County except Kennewick, Richland and West Richland, which would be in the 8th District.

Watkins said the important part for the city is to keep Pasco together in the same district.