Oroville annexation hearing draws some complaints

Neighbors express concerns about changes to road

“Obviously we are keeping the future in mind, planning with access to the industrial area that makes sense. We can move forward or sit on our hands and not do anything”

Chris Branch, Director

Oroville Community Development

OROVILLE – Oroville held a public hearing on the proposed annexation of more of the Oroville Reman and Reload company into the city at the council’s Tuesday, June 7 meeting.

Chris Branch, director of Community Development, went over the issues involved in the annexation proposal, including the fact that adjacent property owners were invited to comment at the May 8 meeting of the planning commission.

“The planning commission recommended approving the annexation,” said Branch. “In addition, the area to be annexed would be rezoned as heavy industrial. This would be a consolidation of Reman and Reload properties outside the city with those inside the city limits.”

Branch said a SEPA environmental checklist had already been performed and that the comment period for the SEPA had expired on May 19. He also said the notice of a proposal to annex into the city had been published in the Gazette-Tribune and that it had been publicly posted on the three corners nearest the proposed annexation.

“We also published it extra times in the newspaper and mailed copies to the neighbors describing the annexation,” Branch said.

Branch recommended the mayor sign a pre-annexation agreement and that the annexation ordinance not become effective until this agreement takes place. The annexation is required so that a change to the road, which goes through Reman and Reload, a wood products manufacturer, can take place. The city is applying for a grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help pay for the changes. Even if the grant is not awarded, Branch said Reman and Reload would most likely have petitioned for annexation of the property into the city limits.

Branch said the city wants to make sure that there is continued access for current and future businesses to the railhead located in the area.

“The road changes would be paid for with an 80 percent grant from the EDA and 20 percent from the property owner. It puts Oroville in an advantageous position as an inland port,” said Branch.

The annexation was not without its detractors, among them David Taber and Paul Schwilke, who own property along Bob Neil Road. Both were concerned that the road would be part of the changes being made in the area.

“I don’t want sidewalk on my side of the street, I don’t want to plow it and I don’t want to take care of it,” said Taber, who owns storage units near where Bob Neil Road joins Jennings Loop Road.

“There would be separate hearing on street vacation,” said Branch, saying most of the part of the road near the two property owners was not part of the annexation proposal.

“I don’t know why there’s going to be sidewalks on either side… it’s industrial,” said Taber.

“One of the reasons we decided to put sidewalks and curbs was because trucks have been pulling onto your property,” said Branch.

“I’ll take a curb, not a sidewalk,” said Taber.

“What are you going to do about the kids?” asked Schwilke. “It’s just going to make more traffic across my property.”

“You’re just shifting the liability on to us,” added Taber.

Another nearby property owner, John Moran, added, “I already have sidewalk in front of my building and I think I’ve only seen five kids use it since it was put there.”

Taber said, “There’s nothing we can do about it, obviously it’s a done deal.”

Branch repeated that the current road was not going to change.

“Obviously we are keeping the future in mind, planning with access to the industrial area that makes sense. We can move forward or sit on our hands and not do anything,” said Branch.

Councilman Tony Koepke said, “We’re kinda getting off the subject. I make a motion the mayor sign the pre-annexation agreement.

Councilman Walt Hart seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.