Panther Lake annexation topic of Sept. 2 hearing

The Kent City Council has scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 2 regarding a proposal to annex the Panther Lake area.

The Kent City Council has scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 2 regarding a proposal to annex the Panther Lake area.

The annexation, which would encompass 5 square miles, would include 24,000 residents.

The hearing starts 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at Kent City Hall, 220 Fourth Ave. S.

Following the hearing, the Council will consider a resolution putting the proposal on the election ballot sometime in 2009. Voting on the measure would be the residents of the Panther Lake area.

Should the Council opt to put the measure on the ballot, city staff will recommend aiming for a May election, John Hodgson, city chief administrative officer, told the Council at a Aug. 19 workshop.

The jagged borders of the potential annexation area start north of Southeast 240th Street to near Southeast 192nd Street, and run east of 104th Avenue Southeast to near 132nd Avenue Southeast. The area covers 5 square miles and 3,200 acres.

The Panther Lake area includes seven Kent School District schools. That number includes Kentridge High School and six elementaries: Panther Lake, Glenridge, Emerald Park, Soos Creek, Park Orchard and Sunrise.

The Boundary Review Board reviews proposals for boundary changes by cities, fire districts, and water/sewer districts within King County, including city annexations. After the city files a notice of intent the Boundary Review Board, the board has 150 days to approve the proposal. The board also would conduct a public hearing before issuing a decision.

“We met with the Boundary Review Board and it has a timeline to meet to go to the voters,” Hodgson told the Council.

The board provides an independent, quasi-judicial review of all proposed annexations. It has 11 members, appointed by the governor, King County executive and mayors of King County cities. Board members may not be associated with other King County jurisdictions while serving on the board, but several are former mayors or council members from King County cities.

If the Council places an annexation measure on the ballot in 2009 and Panther Lake residents approve annexation to the city, the effective date of annexation would be Jan. 1, 2010.

City staffers are aiming for a May election, rather than August, in order to give the city more time to prepare for serving an additional 24,000 residents. The city’s population now stands at 86,000.

“An August (2009) vote is an option, but it would give us only three months to prepare,” Hodgson said at the workshop.

The Council can decide to stop the annexation process at any time.

“Even if the community votes to join the city, you can still say no,” Hodgson told the Council.

City Attorney Tom Brubaker reminded council members at the workshop that state law prohibits the Council from taking a position for or against annexation. The Council can simply present the question to voters about whether to annex to the city.

If the annexation proposal reaches the ballot, Council members can say whether they support annexation, but they cannot use city phones, e-mails or any other city materials to voice their opinion, Brubaker said.

At the Sept. 2 meeting, city staff also will present the Council with results of a city-produced survey that queried Panther Lake residents on their feelings about annexation.

King County has strongly encouraged cities through tax incentives to annex unincorporated areas, and that’s one reason so many annexation measures have come to pass in Auburn, Federal Way, Renton and other Puget Sound cities. King County successfully lobbied the state Legislature in 2007 to approve an annexation sales tax.

Any city with a population of less than 400,000 that annexes at least 10,000 people receives a portion of the state sales tax collected in that city for 10 years. To quality for that tax, cities must start the annexation process by Jan. 1, 2010.

For more information about the proposed Panther Lake annexation, go to www.ci.kent.wa.us/annexation.

Contact Steve Hunter at 253-872-6600, ext. 5052 or shunter@reporternewspapers.com.


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