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Bethel annexation proponents trying again

The on-again, off-again Bethel Corridor annexation could soon be back on again. - Google Maps
The on-again, off-again Bethel Corridor annexation could soon be back on again.
— image credit: Google Maps

Property owners in the Bethel Corridor North area killed an annexation proposal in 2009.

But annexation proponents are trying again. And it would be in the city’s best interest for them to do so, said Mayor Lary Coppola.

“It ties two areas of the city together in South Kitsap,” he said.

And it makes sense financially.

“It will bring additional revenue into the city,” Coppola said, “just under $1 million per year in property and sales tax revenue. Plus, we’re having to go through it with our police and public works people several times per day anyway.”

It would help local retailers, too, he said.

“There are some major retailers that have looked at property along there, but the county’s design standards don’t allow development to pencil,” Coppola said. “They also don’t want to deal with the county’s permitting process.

For example, the Home Depot bought a big property there several years ago, but the permitting process has thus far prevented it from developing.

“Developers would rather deal with the city,” Coppola said, “because we can get stuff done that the county can’t.

“We can process those permits in a really short period of time,” he said. “We’re business-friendly, the county is not.”

Several local developers and real estate agents have echoed those concerns.

“The difference between the response times is absolutely unbelievable,” said developer David Walden.

“It’s a night-and day-difference,” agreed Geoff Clark, with the Sedgewick Joint Venture. “I’ve been told it’s pretty gridlocked (at the county level). It’s gotten to the point now where you can’t get your projects approved.”

The city, however, has green-lighted projects very quickly, Clark said.

The Port Orchard City Council could also benefit from the annexation by taking in new sales tax revenue.

“If they want to come into the city, then we’ll welcome them,” said City Councilman Rob Putaansuu, adding that the city would also invest into the area if it’s annexed.

“We also have to take into consideration the road improvements and infrastructure improvements that would come to the city,” he said. “We need to capture some of that existing revenue and put it into a plan to make those improvements.”

The annexation would incorporate 460 parcels covering 566 acres — from Sedgwick Road to Shelton Lane and from BlackJack Creek to about 1,300 feet east of Bethel Road — into the city.

The area will be annexed if property owners representing 60 percent of the assessed property valuation agree to the proposal.

Last time, the effort fell short by 7 percent.

“When they had the annexation effort last time, they did not get the required 60 percent because Walmart did not sign on,” said Coppola. “Walmart alone is 17 percent of the assessed value and we only fell short by 7 percent.”

It’s been speculated that Walmart didn’t sign on with the annexation efforts because company officials were trying to get a permit to expand from the county at the time.

If the Bethel Corridor North is annexed into the city, the city will take on a major street-widening project.

“We are going to have to do the widening of Bethel, and it will be the largest public works process in the city’s history,” said Coppola. “But we believe there’s enough revenue there that we could service the debt it will take to do that.”

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