City of Sequim annexes nearly 15 acres

Councilors, residents debate esthetics, legality of properties

Cameron Farm Drive sits in within the Sequim city limits now after city councilors approved its annexation on July 13.

Cameron Farm Drive sits in within the Sequim city limits now after city councilors approved its annexation on July 13.

The City of Sequim is now 14.66 acres bigger.

City councilors approved an annexation request filed in November 2013 from Dave Cameron to bring the properties between Hendrickson Road and Fir Street into the city.

It’s the first area to come into the city limits from annexation since 2008.

Cameron told the Gazette in 2014 his intent was to look to develop his portion of the property and that annexing it into the city makes it easier to sell and develop.

Cameron Farm Drive, a private road on the west side of the property, sits on top of a 30-foot right of way for the city that eventually could be a connector between Hendrickson Road and Fir Street.

City Senior Planner Charisse Deschenes said the earliest the city would begin talking about a potential connection would be 2021 when it’s planned in the city’s Transportation Improvement Plan.

“There’s no proposal for connection at this point,” Deschenes said.

“When there is development we’d have to address that issue.”

Deschenes said plans would address connecting a larger segment from Hendrickson Road to Washington Street.

If Cameron Farm Drive were connected and made public, it would need to be expanded to 60 feet wide.

The property is zoned R-III multi-family residential in current city code and proposed in the city’s Comprehensive Plan update to possibly be rezoned as a senior lifestyle district allowing for 6-10 units per acre.

While Cameron’s property sits as a grassy field, a portion of the annexation includes a home on 1.57 acres owned by Timothy and Barbara Owens.

Deschenes said after discussions about utility hookups with Timothy Owens, he didn’t contest the annexation.

Since the Owens’ property is over 1 acre, they’d only be required to hookup to city utilities if their septic and well system were deemed unsafe and replaceable by Clallam County officials, Deschenes said.

“We’re not recommending they hook onto the city now,” she said.


Opponents

Councilor Erik Erichsen was the lone vote against the annexation saying he wanted to defer a decision based on residents’ testimony.

Some residents opposed the annexation because they felt the financial values of the parcels were incorrect and that Cameron, the financial majority property owner, shouldn’t have had the right to petition for annexation because he didn’t have a 60 percent majority ownership.

However, City Attorney Craig Ritchie said there hasn’t been a court case regarding this issue in Washington and that the state’s position on using assessed value has been the same for 70 years.

“As far as I can tell, it’s never been litigated but we’re duty-bound to recess and go on the (Clallam County) assessor’s statement,” he said.

Erichsen called the annexed open space dense and said “it seems inappropriate to thrust upon people who live in the county on big pieces of property with a ghetto right next door to them.”

“I don’t support this at all,” he said. “We don’t have to defer to anyone. This is our city. Regardless of what the county or state says, unless it’s against the law and it ain’t against the law.”

Fir Street resident Peggy Dawson said she opposed the annexation because of its potential impact on the neighborhood if the city builds the road through to Washington Street.

“(It’s) going to bring a whole lot more traffic which is not the reason I bought it five years ago,” she said.

Councilor Ken Hays approved the annexation but didn’t see value in it if the open space was going to remain taxed at an agricultural level because it won’t help much offset cost of roads and infrastructure.

“If it comes in and stays agricultural for the next 10 years, what’s the point?” he asked.

Ritchie said it’s likely the property will be developed.

“We don’t look at actual use,” he said. “We look at potential use.”

He added that the Owens’ property will see a slight difference between city and county taxes due to the county having a road tax and the city not.

“It’s an insignificant difference,” he said.

 

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

 

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