Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Bellevue approves fees for annexation plans

City stands to benefit from various studies

Express Staff Writer

Regardless of the eventual outcome of negotiations between the city of Bellevue and nearby landowners who wish to have their properties annexed into the city, residents will not have to foot the bill to pay for the negotiation process, Bellevue City Administrator Tom Blanchard said.

In a unanimous vote Thursday, Jan. 12, the Bellevue City Council approved agreements to review three separate annexation proposals the city is currently considering. If approved, the annexations on lands to the east and to the south of Bellevue would effectively double the current size of the city.

The annexation agreements establish a formula for the financial contributions that will be made by developers and how the funds will be used to pay for various impact studies and the time city staff spends on the negotiation process.

While Bellevue's current estimated budget to review annexations is $236,000, it could be adjusted either up or down if new needs arise, Blanchard said.

To date, the developers haven't balked at the city's funding requests, he said. "They didn't bat an eye at this one," Blanchard said. "It looks reasonable to them."

He said it's important to keep in mind that the city is not bound in any way to approve the annexations by accepting the funds from developers. "There are absolutely no guarantees," Blanchard said.

At least seven studies—to be paid for entirely by developers—will look at the potential impacts the annexations would have on the city's finances, water and sewer systems, parks and transportation. The results of those studies will be a benefit to the city even if the annexation proposals are rejected, Blanchard said.

"These guys (the developers) are not going to answer all of our prayers, but they're going to answer a few of them," he said. "We need to do this kind of work anyway."

The City Council has requested the results of the impact studies be completed and submitted to them by mid-March, Blanchard said.

A number of obstacles remain to be addressed before the City Council can make a final decision on the annexation requests, however. These include drafting and passing a new planned unit development (PUD) ordinance and having the Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission consider the annexations, Blanchard said.

"We're in the front end of this," he said. "Things don't get complicated until later."

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