Neighbors of a proposed housing development west of Gum Street and south of 15th Avenue applauded after the Kennewick City Council decided against annexing 21 acres.
In a 5-2 vote, the council Tuesday turned down a request supported by three of the five property owners within the annexed area after hearing about 15 people speak against it.
Shaw 304 LLC, the heir of the former property owner, wants to sell 18.6 acres to Monogram Homes of Pasco, which plans to build 58 homes. The company initiated the annexation.
Neighboring property owners protested, saying the proposed development would be too dense for the surrounding area and would create problems for the neighborhood. They also said they didn't want the city any closer to them than it already is.
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More than 60 people packed into the city council chambers. Between commenters, Kennewick Mayor Steve Young said he was getting the message that the annexation was not welcomed by those at the meeting.
Adjacent property owner Paul Randleman asked who opposed the annexation, and most of those attending raised a hand.
Last week, Randleman presented the council with a petition signed by 473 neighbors and customers of his family's business, Riverwood Stables and Feed, who didn't want to see the property annexed.
One property owner within the proposed area signed the petition opposing the annexation, and a second property owner sent a letter to city staff asserting he wanted to remain within the county. The city had expanded the proposal to 21 acres to avoid creating pockets of county land surrounded by the city.
Randleman questioned whether the annexation was possible under state law because at least 60 percent of the proposed area has to touch city boundaries. The proposed annexation creates a peninsula, he said.
Jessica Foltz, assistant city attorney, said that doesn't apply in a petition method of annexation, only if a city tries to annex an area through an agreement with the county.
But the council decided against the annexation anyway, with only Councilmen Don Britain and Bob Parks voting for it, pointing out earlier during the meeting that the housing development can happen anyway.
The council's decision doesn't necessarily halt the housing subdivision. Because the 18.6-acre pasture is in the city's urban growth area and city water and sewer is available to the property, county rules allow single-family homes to be built on lot sizes as small as 7,500 square feet.
Kris Winters, representing Monogram Homes, said the company will still build homes even if the property remains in the county. He said the number was not determined yet, and could be anywhere from 10 to 60.
He said the sketch showing 58 homes on the property was merely a possibility presented for the annexation application.
"Everyone's concerns are very valid, but that is something that is addressed during the preliminary plat stage," he said.
Kendra Kolasinski, 15, a Kennewick High School student, said her family recently moved near the pasture from Salt Lake City. Though she didn't initially want to move to the area, she said she's come to find the area has its own charm that would be disrupted by a dense housing development.
She also expressed concern about potential increases in crime, particularly gang and drug activity, which she said is already an issue at the high school. Previously, she attended a school with metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs and searches. She said it's nice to not have her privacy breached.
Marty DePeu, who lives down the street from the pasture, said she also recently moved to the area because she liked the "melting pot" of a rural community.
She said she is concerned with traffic on Gum Street, which is supposed to travel at 25 mph, but goes faster.
"It's a narrow little country road," she said.
James Hall, who lives around the corner from the pasture, said he questioned how traffic would be handled when city police and Benton County deputies can't handle the traffic in that area during the week of the fair each summer.
He added, "I like room between my neighbors."
Vickey Nitta, who has lived in Metz Mobile Home & RV Park north of the pasture for about 10 years, said she didn't want to live next to a bunch of homes just because someone wanted to get rich. Her comments prompted an "Amen!" from some of the audience.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org