The city of Pasco is about to get 1,224 new residents after a majority of council members voted Monday to annex a section of Franklin County that is west of Road 80.
The decision came after 45 minutes of discussing the proposed move, including comments from eight people who live in the area commonly referred to as the “doughnut hole.”
Six of the council members voted to adopt the ordinance, with the lone dissenting vote from Councilman Tom Larsen.
“I don’t think that we should do it,” Larsen said, to claps from more than a half-dozen people in the audience. “I will vote against it, and I think that’s the only fair way to treat the people of this part of the county.”
The annexation will take effect July 1, allowing the new city residents to vote in Pasco’s upcoming primary and general elections.
The residents will be in District 5, which is represented by Mayor Pro Tem Rebecca Francik. She has filed for re-election in August and has two challengers.
The area includes 688 acres of unincorporated county land and has about 437 homes, along with McLoughlin Middle School and Ruth Livingston Elementary. It goes from Road 80, extending along Court Street, to one small portion along Road 100.
City utilities already extend to much of this unincorporated area, with a large number of residents already having previously signed powers of attorney to receive city water.
Earlier this month, council members established zoning that is most comparable with existing land uses and development patterns for the area.
The RS-20 zoning already is in 97 percent of the proposed annexation area.
Many residents in the affected area wanted to keep the minimum lot size at 20,000 square feet per home, although the city’s new ordinance on low-density residential zoning was locked in for a five-year period and not the residents’ preferred 20 years.
The main concerns of the residents involved protecting their current rural lifestyle.
On Monday, resident Tom Cornell said that he finds it “personally offensive and morally unconscionable” that his home has been called a hole. This implies there is no substance or value to his way of life, said Cornell, who vowed “to fight you people on this the rest of the way.”
Steve Schlegel — who participated in the city’s fact-finding committee early in the annexation process — reminded council members that the committee had suggested some changes to the city code because the residents had invested a lot in their properties.
“We didn’t move here ... to see how it would change, we moved because we liked the lifestyle,” he said.
Judy Dunbar said the 5-year zoning agreement is a slap on the face and a lifetime burden on farmland owners who want to secure their lifestyle so high-density developments can’t encroach on their property in the future.
Ross Carpenter opposed the annexation, accusing the council of not listening to people while pushing a particular agenda.
“I’ve lived here in this house my whole life. I grew up there, and I know this is going to happen,” said Carpenter. “You can’t stop progress ... but what bothers me is the way yo’re going about it.”
However, Candy Hales told the council that not all property owners in the annexation area are against the move.
“There are some of us who think it is time for it,” she said. “When we moved there and signed those wonderful water agreements, we knew it would be annexed at some point.”
Bill Venema said he was in support of Pasco’s decision to go forward with the annexation because “the business about a lifestyle is what you make of your life and not what somebody else does to you.”
Francik responded to the council’s critics that it has been a good process even though it is difficult, and said she looks forward to listening and working with them now that they will be city residents.
Councilman Saul Martinez said he wanted to make his voice heard because “no matter what decision we make, there’s always going to be people who are not happy in our decisions.”
Martinez just because things might not go the way a person wants, doesn’t mean the council members aren’t listening.
“I can’t sit here and say you’re not going to have changes, but I will say I will try my best to make sure your life does not change as much as possible,” he said. “But at the same time, we have to progress as a city. I just hope we can work together to make that happen.”