After simmering quietly for several months, a potentially contentious annexation issue will soon be placed before the Bingen City Council.
On May 4, Merlin W. Vezina sent a "notice of intention to commence annexation proceedings" to the city of Bingen. The topic will appear on the agenda of the City Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 5.
Vezina owns approximate 49.4 acres north of Bingen's Jefferson Street and east of Skyline Hospital. The property in question borders Dry Creek, and the northernmost portion of the Vezina property is situated along both sides of the creek.
The application requests that the City Council decide three possibilities concerning the annexation proposal:
Whether the City Council will accept the annexation; whether the City Council will require the adoption of zoning for the proposed annexation area; whether the City Council will require the assumption of existing city indebtedness by the area to be annexed.
"This is just the first in a number of steps," said Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel. "We have to have a meeting with the property owner to determine if the city wants to entertain the proposed annexation. We have to outline the issues."
Prigel said that is what would take place at the June 5 council meeting.
Vezina is expected to build a large-scale housing development on the land if he is granted the annexation and the city services -- including water and sewer -- that would come with that.
"At this point we've not seen any proposals for development, but I'm sure that would follow," Prigel said. "Originally I thought he was proposing to site 50 units."
If built, the housing units would likely be site-built, single family residences.
The Vezina property currently is under the county's jurisdiction, as it does not fall within the city limits of either White Salmon or Bingen.
If Bingen rejects the annexation proposal, Vezina has the option of seeking annexation to White Salmon.
If neither city agrees to the annexation, Vezina can work with the county to get the necessary permits to build a possible subdivision.
Prigel said he was keeping an open mind about what Vezina will be proposing, adding that he is not leaning one way or another on the merits of the plan.
"Without seeing the specific proposal, I don't know," Prigel explained. "It could be a benefit to the city, but also there are many concerns about liability, fire hazards, and other issues."