City accepts proposal for annexation
Last updated 12/30/2020 at 9:42am
RITZVILLE – City council unanimously accepted a proposal for two parcels to be annexed in to the city, simultaneously adopting the comprehensive plan and assuming existing city indebtedness of the area to be adopted, at their regular meeting Dec. 15.
The annexation, called the Grainland Acres annexation, is two lots within the Urban Growth Area next to Big Bend Electric and across from Love’s Travel Stop. The property, owned by Derek and Susan Schafer, is adjacent to Highway 261 to the west and Weber Road to the north.
The Schafers requested a comprehensive plan designation of General Commercial Zone for Lot 1, which consists of 84 acres; and a designation of High Density Residential Zone for Lot 2, approximately 203 acres.
“When the property is annexed into the city, then the property owners will be required to pay city taxes; that’s what is meant by indebtedness,” City Clerk-Treasurer Julie Flyckt said, adding the county has approved the city moving forward with the annexation process.
The Schafers were present on the Dec. 15 city council meeting teleconference call, along with Tom Stirling of SynTier Engineering, Inc.
Flyckt said when the city receives the annexation petition from Stirling and the Schafers, it would be turned over to the city planning commission to review at their Jan. 13 meeting, before going back to council. Flyckt said the next step would then be for the council to set a date for a public hearing.
“Since there is zoning involved, we have to do two public hearings, 30 days apart,” Flyckt said.
“It’s been a long process, and it will be a longer process still, but we think it could be good for the community of Ritzville, long-term,” Derek Schafer said Dec. 15.
“It’s not an easy thing to do, to take a piece like this and make it fit with an existing city,” Stirling said. “Right now we are developing an overall concept with a couple of businesses that are already interested in this development. We’re trying to work with the infrastructure to allow us to continue building out as the need arises. It’s very market-driven. We heard a lot of people say there’s a need for apartments in Ritzville and assisted care for 55-and-older, so we want to have a mix of that. It will be built out as developers come in and want to build a gas station or a retail office space or a couple of apartment buildings.”
Stirling said it would be the responsibility of developers to bring in the needed infrastructure, including roads and main utilities, for the development to progress.
“That’s typically how it works, anymore,” Stirling said. “Not too many cities are happy about throwing in a bunch of money for this stuff anymore.”
“The world has changed,” Derek Schafer said. “We’re not sure by how much, when things go back to what the new normal is, but maybe a place like Ritzville becomes more attractive when some of this work-from-home may be sort of semi-permanent in the future.”
“One of the selling points of that is we are on a major freeway, and we’ve got access to highways that run north and south as well,” Council member Dede Boyer said. “Just go find somebody with deep pockets.”
“That’s what we do in my business,” Stirling said.
Public Works Director Dave Breazeale said he thought bringing additional sewer in would not be a problem.
“As far as water goes, we’re going to have to start looking into getting more water rights here in the near future, depending on what’s put in out there,” Breazeale said.
Council member Michelle Plumb called the proposal an “amazing opportunity.”
“People keep telling us we’re land-locked, because the land owners don’t want to participate or expand,” Plumb said. “So this is a really cool opportunity.”
“This is something our city has needed, and this is the first step,” Council member Dennis Chamberlain said. “I am appreciative of this coming to us. An annexation up there, this is what our town needs.”
Council member Mike Schrag agreed. “I think it’s a good move for us to move forward with this annexation.”
“I’m kind of excited about the whole process. This could be a very good thing for all of us,” Council member Debbie Chapman said.
“I’ve been talking about something like this ever since I’ve been on city council. So I’m excited about it,” Council member Boyer said.
City Planner Alicia Ayars with SCJ Alliance said she was also excited to learn about the project, although there were still “quite a few pieces to figure out” in getting the infrastructure across I-90 and access points off of I-90 onto the parcel.
Council member and county engineer Scott Yeager said the city should begin looking into Department of Transportation access availability off of Highway 261.
Stirling said the biggest hurdle would be working with the Department of Transportation.
“It’s a huge cog, and they move slow,” Stirling said. “The hardest part about dealing with them is, they don’t care about your timeline. But I’ve got some wheels rolling and I’ve been discussing some stuff with them.”
In other business, council
Adopted an ordinance amending the 2020 budget to appropriate funds for unanticipated revenues and allocations in the law and justice contributions, in the amount of $500; and in the water revenue debt reserve in the amount of $55,000.
Approved the mayor signing an agreement with InvoiceCloud for utility bills.
Extended the closure of City Hall to the public through June 30, 2021.