The Chehalis City Council voted Monday to direct city staff to begin the long process of annexing four areas of its urban growth area as phase one of a three-part attempt to incorporate as many as eight sections of the UGA into city limits.
Comprising the current phase are: Two adjoining blocks of land just east of Chehalis which include Alderwood and SE Prospect Street; portions of Interstate Avenue and Bishop Road south of W.F. West High School and Alexander Park located just across the Chehalis River from the Veterans Memorial Museum.
City staff have spent more than two years reviewing options for annexation. City Manager Jill Anderson said Monday she figures each of the three proposed phases would happen on a recurring two-year cycle.
Cities have to complete an 11-step checklist codified by state law to annex property into their boundaries. Hillary Hoke, planning and building manager for Chehalis, said attempting to annex four of the eight areas laid out in a Powerpoint presentation during the meeting struck the right balance between value and resources needed to complete the process.
Hoke provided the council with three options ranging from three to five blocks of UGA land. The smaller one would have excluded the park, while the larger took into account the land on which Lewis County Fire District 6 headquarters are located.
“Option one is the quickest and easiest,” Hoke said. “Kind of a slam dunk, almost. Option two adds a little bit (of cost) for surveying of the park. Option three is the most time consuming.”
Combined, the four sections of the UGA carry an assessed value of $43.5 million as determined by the Lewis County Assessor’s Office, well under the limit of $56.1 million set by city staff for a single annexation process. That number represents 5 percent of the total assessed value of Fire District 6.
If the combined assessed value of any one proposed annexation effort exceeds 5 percent of the total value of a relevant special purpose district, the district can ask for additional studies and analysis to be paid for by the city. The other four UGA sections flagged by city staff total about $30 million in assessed value.
Mayor Dennis Dawes asked Hoke why the city wouldn’t want to go ahead and annex the small section that includes the Fire District 6 building, which would still keep the total value well under $56 million. Hoke replied that the lack of historical documentation such as land surveying and legal descriptions of properties within that parcel would add about six months and a potentially large expense to the bundle.
“It begs the question, because we’re going to have to pay for it sooner or later,” Dawes said.
Having received positive direction from the council, city staff will soon begin working with a surveyor to amass legal descriptions and maps of the areas to be annexed. The city will also contact affected property owners and relevant Lewis County officials to inform them of the impact of annexation.
Once those steps are complete, a formal report will be presented to the city council, which will have 60 days to schedule a meeting to approve the proposal, triggering a formal petition to annex.