A small parcel of land under consideration for annexation into the city of White Salmon could pave the way for a bigger piece to perhaps come in as well.
On Oct. 17, a question on the agenda of the White Salmon City Council was whether to accept or reject a "notice of intent" to annex 4.52 acres of the property into the city limits.
The parcel under consideration, which is currently undeveloped, is at 420-480 NW Spring Street.
The annexation request was submitted by Shon and Lori Webb of Washougal.
Timi Keene made a motion "to accept the notice of intent," and council member John Mayo inquired as to what acceptance of the notice of intent would mean.
"This is a go-ahead to even look at this?" Mayo asked.
Mayo was advised that approval would allow city staff to analyze the property and make a determination as to whether it is "in the best interest of the city to accept the property into the city limits."
Following the staff's review, the property owners could then sign a petition for annexation. A hearing date would then be set, and the City Council would review and subsequently vote the annexation up or down.
"This is a fairly complex process," said council member Brad Roberts. "It's hard to analyze unless the staff is engaged to be brought in. Is annexation even reasonable?"
Council member Richard Marx was skeptical.
"What's the benefit for the city to even consider this? Tax dollars? That's it?" Marx said. "It would be pretty significant to our vote to know what the benefits are."
Dotty DeVaney, the city's planning consultant, said the county's current zoning of the land (half-acre lots) would not necessarily apply if it is brought into the city.
"It could go from half-acre zoning to 5,000 square foot lots," DeVaney said. "If you add it up, you might get 30 lots maximum for the whole parcel."
The motion to accept was approved 4-1. It was supported by Keene, Mayo, Roberts, and Susan Gookin, with Marx casting the lone vote in opposition.
Cochran Estates, an eight-acre, 17-lot residential subdivision south of Columbia High School, could be next in line to be annexed into the city if the Webb parcel annexation is eventually approved.
Mayor Francis Gaddis pointed out that for any territory to be annexed into White Salmon's city limits, it has to be contiguous with other land inside the city limits -- there can be no "islands" of city land not bordering on other city land.
"People who live there in the adjacent Cochran Estates area believe it should be annexed into the city to tie it in, but they need one property touching another to do so," Gaddis explained.
The Webb property would provide a link to the Cochran Estates land.
Marx questioned the value of annexing more land into the city at a time of serious budget constraints.
"The city is trying to convince us to annex, but are unable to show any benefits except for a minor amount of added taxes," Marx pointed out. "We have no water to give them, and there's no infrastructure. This is huge -- possibly 30 more houses. The city needs to take care of its water problems and budget problems before we go annexing another chunk of property."
Marx added that he believes the land is being brought in to make it easier to bring the Cochran Estates subdivision into the city as well.
"The people of Cochran Estates may be annexed in, and may have no choice if this other annexation goes through," Marx said. "The people of Cochran Estates need to be aware of that."
Gaddis said he believed annexation of the property would be beneficial to the city of White Salmon.
"It will be a good thing," Gaddis said. "That will tie everything together there, but it has to go through the procedures. And a short time later, other houses will come in."