Mobile home park residents speak out against annexation into Lacey

Residents of a Hawks Prairie mobile home park are opposing a proposed annexation into the city of Lacey, saying they are concerned about higher taxes and potential rent increases.

The residents testified Thursday at a public hearing on the city’s proposed Hill-Betti annexation, which includes about 150 acres of mostly commercial property in Hawks Prairie, north of Interstate 5. It is bordered by Marvin Road Northeast, 33rd Avenue Northeast and Hickory Stick Road Northeast.

Alpine Mobile Estates occupies property within the annexation area.

Wyoma May, an Alpine resident since 1983, said she and others who signed a petition against the annexation are worried about increased taxes, although a specific tax wasn’t named.

“We didn’t ask to be annexed; this is something being imposed on us,” she said. “I don’t think the city can offer us anything that we aren’t already getting from the county.”

Fellow resident Anthony Richardson said he also is concerned about higher taxes, and if the annexation does go through, he said it likely will provide incentive to the “corporation we live under to raise rent.”

“You’re making a decision about changing people’s lives,” Richardson told the council.

Lacey Community Development Director Rick Walk met with the group during the council meeting, and later explained the message he delivered to them.

“The annexation is not going to change anything related to land use, sewer and water, and taxes are going to be very similar (to what they pay to the county),” he said. “We want to make sure we get clear information to them, so they have a better informed opinion about the annexation.”

Some tax examples: Thurston County has a roads tax, but Lacey does not. The city has a utility tax, but it’s property tax levy is lower than that in the county, according to city information.

Other property owners in the area petitioned the city to be annexed because that’s what former property owner Evelyn Betti wanted them to do. Betti, who died in 2008, requested that step in her will, according to city information.

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, representing more than 60 percent 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.

Upon annexation, the Hill-Betti property can be developed and sold, the proceeds of which will flow into the Bruno and Evelyn Betti Foundation, trustee and attorney Sandy Mackie said Thursday night.

The foundation was set up to benefit education and children, he said. “She loved the city of Lacey,” Mackie said of Betti.

The proposed annexation will now go before the Thurston County Boundary Review Board. The council is expected to take action May 14.

Also Thursday night, the council learned that a long-vacant parcel of land at Golf Club Road and Pacific Avenue has some new activity. Work crews are preparing the site so Fred Meyer, which is remodeling its Lacey store, can temporarily store construction equipment and supplies.