Palo Alto area is annexed

Clallam County Fire District 3 Chief Steve Vogel is relieved he won't have to stop his firefighters from passing the 5400 block of Palo Alto Road.

The fire district's board of commissioners approved an annexation Dec. 16 that includes the small neighborhood that is surrounded by Olympic National Forest land into District 3's coverage area.

For more than 26 years, firefighters and emergency medical personnel have been responding to problems in the neighborhood even though its residents were not on the tax rolls to pay for District 3 services.

Given that government agencies are not allowed to gift anything to individuals or to businesses, Vogel and the commissioners had to make a hard decision and require an annexation or they would stop serving the area.

"It's a huge load off my mind," Vogel said. "This is a good thing for the district and it's ultimately a good thing for that community. I know I didn't want to be faced with a scenario where we couldn't help someone because of a boundary line."

But the approval of the area's annexation into the district removed any possibility that District 3 would pass on emergency calls from upper Palo Alto Road.

Initially, the commissioners set a deadline of September for the community to create a petition and get signatures representing more than 60 percent of the land base. But due to delays, the district relaxed the deadline and allowed for services to continue while the annexation pushed its way through Clallam County's Boundary Review Board.

By mid-September, more than 50 percent of the people owning property on upper Palo Alto Road were on board, which proved to be well over the 60-percent land base quota.

"Service will go on as usual," Vogel said.

Now that the homes are in the district, the landowners will pay an annual fee assessed along with other property taxes.

The rate is $1.36 for every $1,000 in home and land value assessment. A $300,000 home would be charged $408 per year.

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