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County residents' petition opposes future annexation


February 18, 2021

-Submitted graphic

This Urban Growth Area future land-use designation map, part of the City of Dayton Comprehensive Plan, shows both sides of Highway 12, extending out to the trailer court, zoned as commercial. The portion north of Highway 12 is part of the 180-acre parcel being considered by the Port for annexation.

DAYTON–The Port of Columbia Commissioners and Executive Director Jennie Dickinson opened the monthly meeting on February 10 with a public hearing and public comment. Betty Longen, a Columbia County resident who lives on Highway 12 west of town just across from Blue Mountain Station, spoke on behalf of a group of County residents petitioning against the idea of land along the west end of Highway 12 being annexed into the Dayton City limits, as discussed in the 2021 Comprehensive Plan Workshop meeting in December, 2020.

Dickinson and the Commissioners assured Longen that the idea of annexation is not a formal proposal. "It is in our Comprehensive Plan, not as a proposal but as something that we think would be a good idea to consider some time in the future," said Commissioner Sean Milligan. "That's why it's part of the planning process."

Dickinson, with Commissioner Chairman Earle Marvin and Commissioner Shawn Brown, told Longen that the idea for annexation is focused on commercial property, not private residential property. However, Dickinson said, an annexation could affect some private property. "The people whose properties are involved would have to vote," Dickinson said. "There would have to be a majority approval for anything like that to happen."

During the December 18 Comprehensive Planning Workshop meeting, Dickinson stated three reasons that are the basis for the idea of annexation. One was being incorporated into the City would allow for better signage than the current limits that run along the County scenic byway of Highway 12. Another reason is it would allow for reduced speed limit for the annexed portion of the Highway. And finally, utility costs in the long run would be less.

At the December meeting, Meagan Hayes, City of Dayton Director of Planning and Community Development, made a presentation to the Commissioners and Dickinson. "Harlem south towards Highway 12, if you were to just follow that and all of the Port property–that's all zoned commercial with the exception of the Fairgrounds," Hayes said at that meeting. "The rest is just residential. There would be an opportunity to increase not just the commercial uses but the residential as well." Hayes said that with annexation, it would increase opportunities for development offering both subdivision and buildable land potential.

Hayes told the Commissioners that if and when the Port would apply to the City for annexation, the Port would have to obtain signed support from property owners of 10% the acreage or value of the proposed land. The City would then have to decide to accept the application as is, modify it or deny it. To move forward then, the Port would have to gain 60% support from property owners of the acreage or value of the land. According to Hayes, the Port owns 73 acres of the 108 needed to be able to move forward with annexation of 180 acres of the Urban Growth Area (UGA.)

Before going to the City though, the Port Commissioners would have to discuss the matter in a future Board meeting and vote to pursue it further. Milligan addressed the other Commissioners, "Well gentleman, what do you think? Do we want to ask Jennie to put this on one of our forthcoming agendas?"

Chairman Marvin said yes, and the other commissioners agreed with strong support.

"I think it makes a lot of sense for the overall community," Brown stated."

Dickinson agreed but pointed out they would have to be ready to face public opposition from County residents, and it was discussed the importance of providing accurate information to dispel misconceptions about City regulations to residents at the time when the plan would move forward.

Hayes said, "I don't imagine just due to the difficulty and the public misconceptions about annexation, that the City would propose the entire UGA but I would anticipate a larger boundary to get the most bang for the buck. If you are going through the process, you might as well grow as much as possible."

The UGA future land use designation map as part of the City of Dayton Comprehensive Plan shows both sides of Highway 12 extending out to the trailer court is zoned as commercial but the portion north of Highway 12 is part of the 180 acres being considered by the Port for annexation.

The 2021 Comprehensive plan was formally adopted at the February meeting. Currently, the plan is not available for viewing on the Port website.

At the suggestion of Commissioner Shawn Brown, a letter will be going out to the petitioners telling them the annexation is not a formal proposal and that if it were to become one, the affected parties would be notified. Milligan concurred that answering their concerns is important.

Representatives from Anderson Perry for the Touchet Valley Trail were present for a portion of the meeting to report that the trail design should be 30% complete in time for the Commissioners to review and hold a public meeting in mid-April. The plans will be posted on the website for public viewing ahead of the meeting.

The Port is seeking out services for broadband service from NoaNet for Port use and its properties as well as for use within the City of Dayton. This was also presented at the City Council meeting by Meagan Hayes. She said "The Port has been attempting to acquire funding to bring broadband, dark fiber into the community. We are now in contact with NoaNet, who owns the main line that runs through Main Street in an effort to get us at City Hall better connectivity as well as at the City shop. It's grown into potentially a large grant project to expand that dark fiber...Any of the internet providers can offer services after the fiber is installed."


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