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City Council could slow flow of annexation requests

Enumclaw’s latest annexation proposal took another step forward the evening of Nov. 22, but members of the City Council are clearly starting to believe growth is occurring fast enough.

The council most recently looked at a request that would, if approved, add 101 acres and approximately 85 people to the city roster. The area in question straddles 268th Avenue Southeast, stretching between Southeast 424th and Southeast 432nd streets.

Six members of the council debated the issue at length and, at one point, discussed the possibility of implementing a moratorium on future annexation requests.

The action on the Nov. 22 agenda was not to annex any land, but simply to give the petitioner, Rick Kranz, the right to continue the process. He eventually received the go-ahead to seek signatures from landowners representing 60 percent of the area’s assessed value. If that hurdle is cleared, the issue goes to the county’s Boundary Review Board before heading back to the city for final approval.

The council recently approved one annexation request and has three more in the works. Public Works Director Erica Shook said one more is being talked about.

The council’s concern was that city services soon may not be able to keep up with demands.

“The city is nearly at the level where additional staff would be needed,” Shook told the council, adding that the 268th annexation would not stretch staff too thin. But it’s getting to the point where the Public Works Department, Planning Department and police force could have trouble keeping up, she cautioned.

Leading the discussion against further annexation was Councilman Sean Krebs, who noted, “maybe it’s time to give it a pause.” Councilman Rich Elfers cited a concern that police protection could suffer citywide when there’s more turf to cover. Councilman Jim Hogan said “we’re right on the edge,” but supported the 268th annexation request because it was citizen-driven rather than a city initiative.

In the end, Elfers, Krebs and Glen Jensen voted against allowing the annexation effort to move forward. Supporting the idea were Jeff Beckwith, Mike Ennis and Hogan. With Councilman Kevin Mahelona absent during the early part of the meeting, the deadlock meant Mayor Liz Reynolds was called upon to cast the deciding vote.

Reynolds voted in favor of allowing the annexation issue to proceed.

Prior to the vote, five citizens addressed the council. Four were opposed to the annexation with only Kranz, the petitioner, speaking in favor of the proposal.

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