Jul 312008

Recently the Tri-City Herald reported that the city of Kennewick is considering annexing the Tri-City Heights subdivision from Benton County. Tri-City Heights, a 305-acre ‘island’ of county property surrounded by the city, contains 710 parcels according to Christina Palmer, assistant director of support services, and it is the last remaining piece of a 2005 plan to annex these ‘islands’ by the city.

Most of the homes in the subdivision were built in the early 60s out in the middle of nowhere. Once Columbia Center Mall was built, Kennewick started annexing more and more land to the west. A number of subdivisions resisted the urge to merge and the city even went so far as to deny water to home buyers in these subdivisions unless they would sign a power of attorney allowing the city to vote for them in any annexation bid.

Now many of the original home owners have moved on and the new owners don’t really know what all the fuss was about. But they do hear horror stories from their neighbors about septic tanks failing and the cost to put in new ‘engineered’ systems because the city refuses to allow county residents to hook up to the sewer. Take away their right to vote and force the residents into an expensive septic system — and the city wonders why there is bad blood?

But what caught my attention was a news story on KEPR TV by Molly Kelleher about road conditions on a section of 4th Street in Kennewick between Union and Edison. The TV station got an email calling it “the worst roughest street” in the city and that no one will “lift a finger over this.” The station went out with its cameras and could see the reason for the ‘road rage’, there are noticeable potholes, cracks and bumps along the whole stretch. When I drive this section of road (about 4-5 times a week) I have always figured that the city was ignoring it just to get even with some ole curmudgeon who had given the city council guff in years past.

The city’s response is the reason I have a problem with annexation of Tri-City Heights, my neighborhood. They told the reporter that this road used to be Benton County land and now Kennewick promises to get the work done, or at least a bid, next year. But I went back trough the city council minutes and found that this property was annexed in July of 2000 — Eight! yes Eight! years ago. Why is the city trying to blame this on Benton County? If the city does not have enough money to maintain land they have already annexed, why would I want to have them annex any other property?

  2 Responses to “Tri-City Heights Annexation by Kennewick”

  1. Well, as a retired city planner with thirty years of experience in city government in more than a dozen cities and five states, I would like to enter a few thoughts on the matter.

    I’m not sure that the County is doing any better of a job for us. The County and the City could easily enter into an inter-local agreement wherein the City would agree to provide necessary services to our “island” such as sewer AND water and the County would pay for those services with some of the property tax they are happy to collect from us but not spend on us!

    I have more bad (maybe good) news to add. Try getting a copy of all of the building permits issued on your property or even a parcel map from the county planning department. Good luck! They don’t know where any of it is! I needed a locate for my septic tank… no such luck. I needed a copy of the original plans for my house to complete a project but again, no such luck!The County has lost all of the official records for permits and construction for our entire neighborhood! THAT’S HOW IMPORTANT WE ARE TO THEM!

    My biggest pet peeve about still being a County resident is that I don’t see my property tax dollars coming back to my community (the island) but I see a lot of money being spent on Commissioner pipe dreams, and special interest groups somewhere out there but not here! Oh sure, they slop some oil and gravel out on our streets every few years and that;s what we get for the thousands of dollars they collect from each of us every year!

    Politicians in this area are for the most part, a big joke. A bunch of know nothings who thought they were going to change everything the previous nut heads had done. Political whiplash is a risk of the business when it comes to being a manager or staff member in a local government organization. They will drive you nuts with the lack of political intelligence and acumen they don’t have! And if you don’t toe the line, they’ll kick your butt right out the door! They spent six months campaigning for their “Look At Me” positions and could care less about the guy or gal who spent six to seven years in college and another five, ten, or twenty years as a professional studying and applying things these politicians will never understand. They blame staff for everything that goes wrong and hope the general population doesn’t realize that Staff only follows the direction of elected ninnies who just wanted to win at least one popularity contest in their life.

    No, don’t expect the elected clowns to ever come to a decision on this matter of annexation. Just last year I was contacted by the County and asked if I would be willing to provide support for annexation at a County Planning workshop that never happened! Government in the Tri-Cities is not accomplished by individuals with any specific talent for governing. They are all too afraid to make decisions that someone might disagree with because they never really understand what it is they are doing and can’t defend their decisions as a result!

    Annexation of the Tri-City Heights Island” will only come about by the effort of a majority of home owners in our community. I’m not holding my breath waiting for a room filled with an infinite number of well paid monkeys with nearly unlimited technologies and budgets, trying to figure out how to do their jobs!

  2. They will drive you nuts with their lack of political intelligence and acumen.

    Get passionate about an issue and grammar is the first victim in the battle!

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