Annexation of Urban Growth Area vexes leaders

May 17th, 2016 by Ken

When the Growth Management Act was established by the Washington State legislature in 1990, it included the requirement that each city in the state adopt an Urban Growth Area (UGA).   That was land on the city’s boundary that would  accommodate 20 years of growth.  Land outside the UGA would remain rural.

It was expected that UGA’s would eventually be annexed into the respective cities although the state set no guidelines or time frames for such action.

The City of Lacey is a little over 16 square miles.   It has a population of nearly 45,000 residents.   The city’s Urban Growth Area is about 16 square miles and currently contains about 35,000 residents.   At one time the area known as Hawks Prairie was in the city’s UGA but was annexed into the city in the late 1990’s.

The problem facing the City of Lacey is one of timing and money.   When should the city annex those areas within its UGA – – and how much will it cost current city residents.

One action forcing the city to look at annexation is the growth along Martin Way from Carpenter Road to Hawks Prairie.   That is county land.  The city sees it as prime retail land – – but it is currently being used for fast food chain restaurants.  Several new ones have sprouted up during the last year.  Lacey would have zoned that property for other types of use which would have utilized  more fully the location.   But, as long as the land is in the county and not in the city, Lacey has little control of what development will occur.   If it were annexed into the city, better land use controls could have been in place.

One problem keeping Lacey from annexing that section of land is the concern that, if an application is made, the  Boundary Review Board would not allow the city to annex just Martin Way, but would require the city to annex the residential properties adjacent to the road – – Tanglewilde and Thompson Place.

The city is reluctant to annex those housing developments because the streets aren’t up to city standards – -AND – – all of the houses are on septic systems – – some of which are failing.   Annexing those properties would require that the city eventually would have to bear some of the cost of connecting the houses to a sewer system.

Lacey also estimates that at least five new police officers would have to be hired to police annexation.

At its recent retreat, the city has decided to look at annexation and develop a plan which would allow them to annex Martin Way while at the same time also annexing some of the residential properties in Tanglewilde.   Any such plan would require the approval of the Boundary Review Board.

Eventually all the 16 square miles of land and the 35,000 residents living in the Lacey Urban Growth Area will be annexed into the City of Lacey.  The only question is when – – and how much.

(Personal opinion)  I’ve been in favor of annexation for several years.  The inability of Lacey to control growth in the area will only continue.   The streets and septic systems will only continue to deteriorate further.  And the cost to current city residents will only grow.   I think the entire 16 square miles of land should be annexed — the sooner the better.


Posted in Government, Local Politics, The Real News

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