News

2,500 new neighbors at the door

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

Federal Way could grow by almost 2,500 people if property owners in three parts of the city's potential annexation area vote to annex Nov. 2.

The City Council initiated the annexation election process earlier this year, after residents in the North Lake and Parkway neighborhoods expressed interest in joining the city. North Lake residents petitioned the city to start the annexation process themselves, and several have testified in support of annexation at council meetings.

If residents vote to annex, Federal Way will become responsible for providing street maintenance, parks and police service in all three neighborhoods. City officials have said bringing in the areas –– the third one is Redondo East –– would benefit Federal Way by giving the city some control over how they are developed. The officials cite King County's practice of permitting dense, multi-family developments in less-developed area.

The city's budget crunch –– a $3.2 million gap currently and long-term worries about revenue –- isn't expected to affect its ability to provide services if the residents vote to annex. Still, the city will request a share of an incentive pool created by County Executive Ron Sims last year to encourage cities to incorporate their annexation areas and help relieve the county's own budget burden.

City Councilman Eric Faison said biennial budget struggles aren't likely to affect the council's willingness to approve annexation, since the areas are expected to provide a revenue surplus –– albeit a small one.

"I realize we're in a tough financial time, but I can't envision we'd say no," Faison said.

Councilwoman Linda Kochmar said she doesn't foresee a problem because the annexations aren't expected to increase city costs.

Councilman Jim Ferrell said he hasn't heard any budget concerns, either.

"I think these are areas that would naturally be absorbed in the community, with the proviso that they want to be," he said.

Bringing in all three areas is expected to provide a $3,164 surplus of revenue across the operating and capital budgets. The Parkway area will bring in considerably less on the operating side than it will on the capital side, resulting in an $11,400 deficit to incorporate the area. But North Lake is expected to bring in a surplus on both sides, especially after two pending housing developments are finished, for a total surplus of $7,500.

North Lake –– located east of Interstate 5, south of South 320th Street, west of Peasley Canyon and north of State Route 18 –– is home to about 600 people. Parkway –– situated east of I-5, south of South 369th Street and 19th Way South, west of Enchanted Parkway and north of the Milton city limits –– has 1,100 people.

While residents in North Lake and Parkway have been enthusiastic about annexing, business owners in Redondo East –– south of the Des Moines city limits, west of Federal Way and north of South 284th Street –– were more reserved when city officials announced they were considering annexing the area. Many of the business signs in the Redondo area don't comply with Federal Way's sign code.

Redondo is home to 260 people and several businesses, and is expected to bring in more on the operating side than on the capital side, for a surplus of almost $7,000.

The city's Land-Use and Transportation Committee has recommended giving the business owners in Redondo the same 10-year amortization period the city allowed when the sign code was implemented in 1991. City code will be tweaked to allow the amortization period any time the city annexes an area with non-compliant signs, according to officials.

That change to regulations won't happen before the general election next month. In fact, it might not happen for some time. But officials said business won't have to worry.

"Basically, with a 10-year period, we're not anywhere near it," said Isaac Conlen, a city associate planner. "Because it's 10 years out, we can implement that at some point in the future."

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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