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North Bend accepts annexation request

The North Bend City Council took the first step towards its planned eastward expansion July 18 by accepting a preliminary annexation petition for about 90 acres in the city's urban growth area.

North Bend Treasurer Elaina Montgomery said her staff's financial analysis determined annexation would be good for both the city and the property owners involved.

The city stands to gain $15,900 in tax revenue each year from the annexation while property owners will see a tax cut of 95-cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation - about $332.50 per year on a $350,000 home. That's because North Bend residents pay less tax money than residents of unincorporated King County, Montgomery said.

City residents pay $10.92 per thousand to all taxing districts including $1.64 to the city while county residents pay $11.86 per thousand, with 76-cents going to Fire District No. 38 and $1.83 to the county for road maintenance.

Furthermore, because the city has no debt, the annexed property owners won't be served with any added costs above the general levy rate, Montgomery said.

The preliminary study considered only the existing land use - 18 of the properties contain improvements, including homes, with an estimated 42 residents. The rest are vacant, according to the city's analysis.

The proposed annexation includes 11 parcels at the city's edge north of East North Bend Way at Thrasher Avenue; an island of 10 parcels bordered by Southeast Cedar Falls Way and Mountain View Boulevard Southeast and an additional parcel south of Southeast 10th Street. The owners of 13 of the parcels signed the petition submitted to the city May 19.

The next step is for the city to circulate a petition for annexation that must be signed by property owners within the annexation area representing 60 percent of the assessed property value. King County also must sign off on the annexation before it takes effect.

The analysis did not consider what the effect of development would be if the maximum number of buildings were built on the properties. That analysis would be done with each proposed development to determine the cost of providing services weighed against the increase in city taxes collected, said North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing.

Nothing could be built on the properties anyway until the current moratorium - instated nearly eight years ago by the state Department of Ecology because of insufficient city water rights - ends.

The North Bend water utility provides water to 11 of the homes. None of the existing homes are served by sewer, but the city sewer system has the capacity to provide sewer once the needed infrastructure is built.

Linked to the annexation is a provision to change the city's zoning designation for many of the parcels involved. The existing zoning overlay - which normally would have taken effect upon completion of the annexation - calls for eight dwelling units per acre on most of the privately-owned parcels. All but four of these would have the density reduced to four units per acre. Those four properties, which border the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, would be allowed 6-10 dwelling units. King County zoning - the zoning now in effect - allows one dwelling per 2.5 acres for most of the properties.

However, some accommodation for affordable housing was needed, hence the high density on some parcels, he said.

"We don't want to look like the typical suburban cities," Hearing said. "We moved here because we wanted to have some space."

That's why the proposal calls for reducing the building density within city limits, he said.

Although the change reduces the number of residences available to the city for future growth, Hearing said the density reduction still allows North Bend to meet anticipated growth in the next 20 years.

Recent revisions of the city's comprehensive plan expect North Bend to have 16,250 residents 20 years from now, if the whole urban growth area were annexed and developed to full potential, said Senior Planner Jamie Burrell.

The city's population is about 4,685; some 4,700 people already live in the urban growth area - meaning just over 7,550 people are expected to move to about 3,000 new homes in the next 20 years, Burrell said. Counting the projects the city knows about and amount of available land, North Bend expects 1,650 new residents by 2012, she said.

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