Olympia explores annexation options near South Bay Road and Yelm Highway

In 2015, Olympia will explore more annexation opportunities, including unincorporated areas that contain city-owned parks.

City Manager Steve Hall recently met with the Land Use Committee as well as members of East Olympia Fire District 6 about the possibility of annexing three spots on the city’s fringes.

One area is off South Bay Road in the northeast and includes Friendly Grove Park. The other two areas are along Yelm Highway in the southeast and include the undeveloped Ward Lake Park, which sits between Henderson Boulevard and Boulevard Road.

Nothing is official at this time, and all annexations require a vote by the Olympia City Council. Hall said at last week’s council meeting that more information should be available in four to six months.

“We’re talking to property owners,” said city planner Todd Stamm, noting other factors to consider such as fire and law enforcement services. “Whether it will lead to anything or not is yet to be seen.”

The proposal is part of an ongoing annexation effort. The city reports nearly 4,000 total unincorporated acres within its Urban Growth Area, which was created as part of the Growth Management Act.

The largest chunk of unincorporated land — about 1,860 acres — borders the southeast corner of the city along Yelm Highway. Stamm said that section represents about 10 percent of Olympia’s total land area.

“Right now it’s beyond our radar,” Stamm said. “It is something larger than we want to entertain at the moment.”

Recently, the city has annexed three unincorporated “islands,” including 205 acres off Boulevard Road in southeast Olympia this year. That annexation affected about 330 residents. Now that they’re officially part of Olympia, the residents can vote in city elections and receive financial incentives to connect with city water and sewer services. According to the city, those same residents will pay about $25 more a year for utilities, but will save an average of $85 per year in property tax.