Lacey City Council seeks input on proposed annexation

A proposed city annexation of Hawks Prairie area land north of Interstate 5 is the focus of a Lacey City Council public hearing Thursday.

Up for discussion is the Hill-Betti annexation, representing 150 acres of mostly commercial land. The property borders Marvin Road Northeast between Hickory Stick Lane and 33rd Avenue, according to City Council agenda materials.

Property owners in the area petitioned the city to be annexed because that’s what former property owner Evelyn Betti wanted them to do, city of Lacey planning manager Ryan Andrews said Tuesday.

Betti, who called herself the “unofficial mayor of Hawks Prairie,” requested the annexation in her will. She passed away a few years ago.

Upon annexation, the property can be divided and sold, Andrews said.

Betti’s nephew Stan Hill, president of Hill-Betti Business Park LLC, and John Walsh, executive director of the Community Action Council, petitioned the city through a process that represents 60 percent or more of the assessed value of the annexation area.

Hill-Betti’s ownership represents 46 percent of the assessed value, while the nonprofit Community Action Council, through an apartment building called Tolmie Cove, represents another 15 percent.

The annexation area has some residential uses, but largely is home to businesses, including two wineries, a mini-golf business and a mini-storage.

The unincorporated area already is receiving many city services, except for Lacey police coverage, although that isn’t expected to be a significant added cost to the city if the annexation is approved, Andrews said.

Over the past five years, Thurston County sheriff’s deputies and Lacey police, when asked to assist, responded to a total of 477 calls from the area.

If approved, though, there are some expenses business owners and residents will have to adjust to, but Andrews said many of those expenses are offset in other ways.

Some examples:

•  Lacey has a business and occupation tax — Thurston County does not — but the city also offers a three-year B&O tax exemption to small, startup businesses.

•  Lacey has a utility tax, but the property tax levy is lower than that in the county.

•  Lacey does not have a roads tax, but the county does.

After the public hearing, the annexation will be reviewed by the county Boundary Review Board. The council is expected to take action on the annexation May 14.

The public hearing will take place during a Lacey City Council meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Lacey City Hall, 420 College St. SE.