Council votes to annex Westchester ‘island’

Staff writerAugust 21, 2013 

The Olympia City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to annex 81/2 acres off Division Street between Bowman Avenue and Dickinson Avenue, a residential area known as Westchester.

The matter isn’t final; it now goes to the Thurston County Boundary Review Board, which, if satisfied, could return it to the city for a final vote.

City planner Jennifer Kenny said the city, not residents, initiated the annexation of the area. She said the original development agreement for Westchester allowed the city to annex the land before or after development.

The area is known as an “island” – a portion of unincorporated land surrounded by the city. Annexing such areas “creates a more logical boundary and more reasonable areas for city services,” a city staff report says.

For example, the area is technically served by the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, not the Olympia Police Department. That means a deputy would have to drive through the city to get to the area.

“In nonemergency circumstances, law enforcement response times may not be what the city’s urban residents expect,” the report says.

In practice, the city of Olympia is likely to provide emergency services, though the landowners don’t pay taxes to the city for them, the report says.

Nobody spoke at a public hearing Tuesday night. But Jay Wells, a resident of Bowman Avenue in the proposed annexation area, said in an email that people on his street are opposed.

“We will be losing private garbage service, paying considerably higher waste fees and utility subsidized fees in our electric bills and likely losing acreage,” he said, due to areas required to be set aside for sidewalks and landscaping.

Kenny said landowners wouldn’t lose land unless the area is further subdivided, which would trigger such requirements. But that would occur even if the land remained out of the city, she said.

If annexed, the area would continue to receive garbage collection from LeMay for seven years before switching to the city – unless LeMay chooses to stop service in the area, Kenny said. Residents would pay less in taxes by switching to the city, the report says.

The Westchester area is one of three islands of unincorporated land surrounded by the city. Olympia is also pursuing the annexation of 20 acres south of 14th Avenue and west of Cooper Point Road. A public meeting on that proposal is scheduled for Sept. 5 from 5:30-7 p.m. at Marshall Middle School, 2929 30th Ave NW.

Olympia has considered annexing the largest island: a 205-acre piece in the Boulevard Road area, south of Pacific Avenue and north of 15th Avenue, including both sides of Boulevard and parts of Interstate 5 and the Woodland Trail.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869


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