Benton County commissioners Tuesday gave their final approval to adding 94 acres to West Richland’s urban growth area.
It’s a step officials said is critical to redevelopment of the property, which includes the former Tri-City Raceway.
It allows the city to extend water and sewer services to the site and opens the door to future annexation of the land into West Richland.
The Port of Kennewick owns almost all 94 acres. Port officials have said they envision a hub for the industrial side of the wine world, with possible features such as production facilities, bonded wine warehouses and barrel storage.
City officials have talked about other opportunities that development could inspire in the area, from tasting rooms to a hotel.
The city is building a wine effluent treatment facility near the 94 acres.
“We think (including the land in the growth area) is going to be a great economic boost to the city of West Richland,” said Russ Connole, the city’s community development director.
“It’s going to provide for an opportunity for economic investment in an area that’s highest and best use is for development purposes,” he added, noting the land already is zoned for industrial uses.
Tana Bader Inglima, director of governmental relations and marketing for the port, said in a message that her agency is excited about the decision, highlighting the job creation and economic development benefits.Tuesday’s 3-0 vote wasn’t a surprise — the commissioners already gave initial approval at a meeting in September, following a public hearing.
Commissioner Shon Small said the action is “another example of working with entities and assisting the county in creating economic opportunities, development.”
Commission Chairman Jim Beaver added that commissioners “have to let the five cities in our county grow. And we have to facilitate that growth, especially when they have goals and visions and plans for the future.”
“We’re all in this deal to build a better community,” Beaver told the Herald.The request came to commissioners with a unanimous recommendation from the county planning commission.
The proposal also drew support from groups including the Tri-City Development Council, Benton-Franklin Council of Governments and Red Mountain American Viticultural Area Alliance.
No one spoke against the request at public hearings. Futurewise, the Seattle-based advocacy group appealing a recent Kennewick urban growth decision by the county, has indicated it isn’t opposed to West Richland’s growth area proposal, Connole said.
-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @saraTCHerald