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Annexation will be a long, hard road

The Port Orchard City Council clarified what the annexation process means legally and legislatively on Tuesday evening at its monthly study session, with three McCormick Woods residents present.

Bottom line: This is going to be a complicated legislative process.

The meeting began with City Development Director James Weaver passing out notebooks with detailed matrixes highlighting the contents.

“This illuminates all the information so there’s no surprises down the line ... so we can come up with solutions ahead of time,” Weaver said.

Those solutions involve working out how the city takes on obligations promised to McCormick Woods by the county, through money collected from impact fees.

One such example is McCormick Woods having paid the Kitsap County General Fund a $520.50 transportation impact fee for each dwelling unit, and the city does not have transportation impact fees in place.

Other issues include parks money, street maintenance and sewer rates.

The annexation will also increase the load on public works. In the matrix, Weaver notes that spring and fall cleanup will triple the Department of Public Works’ maintenance time required.

City Attorney Greg Jacoby reminded members of the council that the process will be long and involve a lot of staff hours.

“You’ve got to understand, they may be working on this instead of something else you think is important,” he said.

Several McCormick Woods residents, including Dick Davis and Ray McGovern, spoke and encouraged the city to extend a welcoming arm to the community.

“You have never called us, you have not done anything for the people who are going to vote,” McGovern said. “The city is going to have to step up and say, ‘We really want you and here’s why, and here’s what we can do for you.’”

Members of the city council confessed that they were unaware they could legally express an opinion on the matter of annexation, and consequently they’ve stayed distant from the issue.

Jacoby said members of the city council are allowed to express interest and enthusiasm. Councilman John Clauson cautioned than an overly eager campaign from the city could appear suspicious to residents, encouraging a united front between the city and involved residents.

Clauson also noted that the city’s work investigating information could be seen as encouragement to join the city.

“The city is committing some of our limited resources to this investigation as well,” he said. “I think this is a demonstration of our commitment that we want to find the facts.”

Davis explained the full view of the residents, noting that many are interested, but still waiting for more details.

“We’re here representing about 2,200 residents and 900 homes in the proposed annexed area,” he said. “We do not have an opinion on annexation yet — there’s a lot of questions that are unanswered. We think in theory annexation is a good idea, but the devil’s in the details, and we need to find out what those details are first.”

Davis reported that without a clear advantage to joining the city, he and other residents will not be able to collect the required number of signatures for resident approval of annexation.

Residents representing 75 percent of the assessed value of the area must approve for annexation. Davis explained that it’s not like a vote — all opponents have to do to stop the annexation is sit on their hands.

McGovern did state that he believes residents are not in favor of joining Bremerton’s city limits.

Following the conversation, Davis was encouraged by what we heard.

“This was a terrific meeting,” he said. “As far as we’re concerned, this was worth every minute.”

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