What is an Annexation?
Annexation is the method where land within unincorporated County is brought into a city limit boundary. Since 1990, when the Growth Management Act (GMA) was passed and Walla Walla County opted into the GMA, the City of Walla Walla may only annex land that is within its Urban Growth Area (UGA). RCW 35A.14.
There are eight steps to an annexation, which typically take 6-9 months to conclude from start to finish:
- The 10% Petition. Property owners representing 10% of the assessed value of land within the proposed annexation boundary sign a petition to annex into the city.
- Review of the 10% Petition. Staff reviews the petition to determine if the boundary should be modified or not. Staff looks at the boundary to decide whether a roadway should be included or not, minimize irregular annexation boundaries, and review whether outside utility agreements exist on properties in the vicinity of the annexation request and if those properties be included in the annexation.
- Public Notice. Notice, typically in the form of a letter, is provided to the County, Utility and Fire Districts, and property owners within and directly adjacent to the proposed annexation boundary.
- Accept, Modify, or Reject the 10% Petition. City Council, at a regular meeting, determines whether to accept, modify, or reject the 10% Annexation Petition (and proposed boundary). If City Council accepts or modifies the annexation boundary, then a legal description is prepared.
- The 60% Petition. Property owners representing 60% of the assessed value of land within the proposed annexation boundary sign the petition confirming a majority of property owners commit to the annexation.
- Taxing District Notice. Following receipt of the 60% petition, the city issues a 60 day notice to taxing districts of the proposed annexation.
- Public Hearing Set. Following the taxing district notices, a public hearing is set by City Council (at a regular meeting) and notices are sent to property owners within and directly adjacent to the annexation boundary. Public hearing notice signs are posted at three locations in the annexation boundary, on the city’s website, and published in the Union Bulletin.
- Public Hearing and Council Action. City Council holds the public hearing and considers approval or rejection of the annexation.
Why was the Bachtold Annexation put on hold?
Just before the December 2018 meeting, the City Attorney discovered a special provision in state law (RCW 36.70B.170) that allows a city to enter into a Development Agreement concurrent with an annexation proceeding. This provision had not been used in Walla Walla before because cities typically do not assert their development regulations, such as zoning, until a property is annexed into its jurisdiction. However, given the size and complexity of the Bachtold annexation, the City felt it would be best to prepare a Development Agreement for the property to clearly identify expectations of development before annexation was finalized. Elements typically considered in a Development Agreement may include permitted uses, densities, mitigation measures, design standards such as setbacks and heights, drainage requirements, parks and open space preservation, project phasing, and other appropriate development requirements or procedures. A Development Agreement shall be consistent with applicable development regulations adopted by the City.
What is a Development Agreement?A Development Agreement is a tool allowed under state law (RCW 36.70B.170) that permits a jurisdiction to set forth the development standards and other provisions that shall apply to and govern the development of the real property. A public hearing is required as part of the Development Agreement process before a City Council takes action on the Agreement.
What would the Bachtold property by zoned if annexed?
The City of Walla Walla’s UGA was initially established in 1996. That is when the Bachtold property was identified for future urban growth. The City’s Comprehensive Plan identifies different land uses and densities for properties within the UGA. A major component of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan, Walla Walla 2040, is housing supply and affordable housing. To implement those goals and policies, the City Council adopted a zoning code amendment in December 2018 that collapsed the three former single-family zones (R-96, R-72, and R-60) into one zone now called Neighborhood Residential.
The Neighborhood Residential zone allows for more flexibility in housing types and densities. Minimum lot sizes were eliminated in favor of a minimum density of 4 dwelling units per net acre (subtract roads, critical areas and buffers, and public facilities such as stormwater facilities and open space). A variety of housing types are permitted in the Neighborhood Residential zone such as single-family dwellings, duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, townhomes, and cottage housing. This zoning designation applies city wide, not only to the Bachtold property.
To provide a visual, here is an existing neighborhood in Walla Walla bounded by University, Clinton, Madison, and Pearson Streets. The homes were built between 1910-1925 at a net density of 6.27 lots/acre and average lot size of 6,900 square feet:
The average lot size in the Tablerock Subdivision is 12,270 square feet and a net density of 3.55 lots/acre:
Is the City annexing the Bachtold property instead of north of Highway 12 because the County said no to the UGA boundary amendment?
No. The City is not the Petitioner for annexation of the Bachtold property (see the annexation process explained above). The proposed UGA expansion to the north has no relation to the Bachtold property.
Urban Growth Areas are established by the County. When a city desires to amend its UGA, the City must apply to the County jurisdiction. The City reviewed its UGA during the recent Comprehensive Plan Update and determined the area of existing UGA between 3rd and Langdon Road was not appropriate for urban development because of floodplain issues and the high cost to serve the area with sewer, water, and transportation facilities. Since the City was removing a large portion of its UGA, planners looked for a comparably sized area to add into the UGA with lower infrastructure costs; that area was north of Highway 12. However, that area is presently designated agricultural land of long-term significance, which requires additional study before it can be added to the City’s UGA.
What are the drainage concerns within the area of the Bachtold Property?
There is a known history of the Cottonwood Road area being inundated with water during significant rain events. The response to this question will focus primarily on the Tablerock Subdivision and its history leading up to the annexation submittal. Note: Tablerock Subdivision was developed under Walla Walla County and annexed into the City in 2014.
2003 – Subdivision Phase 1 construction starts
2003 – Internal flooding events during construction (December)
2004 – Subdivision Phase 1 Final Plat Recorded (February)
2004 – Internal flooding events during construction (June)
2005 – Subdivision Phase 2 construction starts
2005 – Storm by-pass piping construction within Tablerock begins
2005 – Flood Event in Tablerock Subdivision occurs (May)
2005 – Subdivision Phase 2 Final Plat Recorded (September)
2006 – Regional stormwater analysis prepared by Anderson Perry (AP) for Walla Walla County identifying long-term flood control options (March)
2006 – Follow-up stormwater analysis by AP incorporating specific direction from Walla Walla County along with a recommended concept plan (October)
2014 – South Cottonwood area annexed into the City (June)
2016 – City receives 10% Bachtold Annexation Petition (January)
2016 – City staff made aware of AP studies and flood potential for Tablerock Subdivision (February)
2016 – City accepts 10% Annexation Petition for the Bachtold property (June)
2016 – City hires Aspect Consulting to conduct independent flood analysis for the area (November)
2017 – City staff inform Annexation Petitioner that city staff will not support annexation without
- Conceptual, full build-out master plan for development;
- Plan for transportation; and
- Plan for flood control. (June)
2018 – 60% Annexation Petition submitted for Bachtold property (September)
2018 – City Council sets Bachtold annexation public hearing date for December 19, 2018 (November)
2018 – City postpones public hearing in favor of executing a development agreement prior to annexing the Bachtold property (December)
The Aspect Consulting Analysis provided seven alternatives for how to address drainage in the basin area. The drainage reports noted above (Anderson Perry and Aspect) are all available for review by clicking here. A conceptual plan of how to address drainage will be required when the city receives the development agreement application.
Per the City’s Municipal Code, new development is required to retain their stormwater drainage on-site for a 25-year, 24-hour storm event. Other naturally occurring drainage that ultimately drains to Russell Creek is just that – naturally occurring. Click here to read the city’s stormwater regulations.
How will traffic impacts be addressed as a result of a proposed development?
A Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) is being prepared for the Bachtold property. TIAs are required for projects of a certain size such as subdivisions, commercial developments, etc. The TIA evaluates the proposed development, the number of trips anticipated to be generated, estimates where those trips will go, what intersections may be impacted, and what, if any, mitigation is needed. Typically, TIAs are required at the time of development application. However, in the case of the Bachtold annexation the city has requested that a TIA be included with the Development Agreement so it is known what impacts the proposed development will have on the existing transportation network before the property is annexed into the city.
Frontage improvements (curb, gutter, sidewalks, street trees) are required of new developments along the project"s street frontage. Whether sidewalks outside of the project boundaries will be required of the project will be analyzed as part of the TIA review. Kendall Road is within the County and will remain in the County if the annexation is approved. A determination if sidewalks will be required along Kendall Road is part of the review process of the project and will be in coordination with Walla Walla County Public Works.