Port Orchard’s annexation parade rolls on

The annexation of the McCormick Woods subdivision into the city of Port Orchard is on track for finalization in July, but the next step in building the town into a first-class city is already in progress.

According to Development Director James Weaver, 13 percent of the landowners within the Bethel Corridor have expressed the desire to join the city. One of the most significant pieces of the jigsaw-like annexation plan, this includes Bethel Avenue from Sedgwick Avenue on the south to Shelton at the north.

The section contains 602 acres divided into 387 parcels and is valued at $143.8 million.

In order for annexation to proceed, owners of 60 percent of this value must approve the action.

This differs from the 75 percent required in this year’s annexation of the McCormick Woods subdivision, since the law has changed since that action was initiated.

McCormick Woods annexation advocates could have waited until after Jan. 1 to begin their petition drive, because less signatures would be required. Instead, they chose to pursue the path that would lead to the earliest annexation.

The area to be annexed is mostly residential, but includes the section of Bethel Avenue that hosts Wal-Mart, Safeway and several other retail outlets. This would increase the amount of sales tax that ends up in the city’s general fund.

The Bethel Corridor plan, to improve the road and widen the right of way, is about 12 years old and has seen little action, according to local developer Richard A. Brown.

“The county has always put the Bethel Corridor plan on the back burner,” Brown said. “We brought a lot of companies in and they weren’t interested in locating on Bethel because the road was in such bad shape and there was no solid plans for its repair.”

The cost of the project has been estimated to be as high as $41 million, but Weaver said much of this estimate consisted of debt servicing and right-of-way purchases.

“We’re now looking at ways to cut these costs” Weaver said. “And it is our desire that money generated by sales tax from these new properties to go directly into road development.”

One residential property owner per parcel will be required to sign the petition. In the case of commercial property, a signature is required from a member of the corporate board.

Weaver has no timetable or final cost for the Bethel Avenue project, but expects the annexation to be complete by the end of 2009.

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