Oroville asked to annex Balmes Road properties

OROVILLE – The Oroville City Council received a Letter of Intent to annex properties along Balmes Road, just north of the city limits and across the Okanogan River.

The request was made by the Thiesans who purchased the old Weitrick property which includes two residences. The property owners were represented at the council meeting by Stan Porter, owner of Sun Lakes Realty in Oroville.

“They want city water and services,” said Porter. “He would like to annex a triangle-shaped property into the city and is planning on doing a four lot short plat and each lot would have a view of the river.”

Chris Branch, director of Planning and Economic Development, said there were 11 properties within an area the city would like to see come into the annexation. These included the Christensen properties which includes the old Valentine Blacksmith shop, now a second-hand store, and a rental house; as well as the Cumbo and Clark properties. Ted Christensen had approached the council in the past about possibly coming in on a previous annexation. The Clarks and Cumbos indicated they didn’t want to be annexed during past discussions, according to Branch.

The proponent of the annexation will be asked to gather names of others who would like to come into the annexation. For the city to annex property it requires signatures of the owners of 60 percent of the valuation of the property.

“The council has received the Letter of Intent prior to the circulation of a petition for annexing parties to meet with the council,” Branch said. “The staff recommends the inclusion of three other parcels, the Christensen property, the city property across from Christensen property and the city park piece near Tonasket Creek.”

Branch said the property was currently zoned for single-family residential and that the second hand store would likely stay commercial given it’s location next to the Chesaw Road. He added that the nearby Oroville Housing Authority property, already in the city limits, was zoned R2 for multi-family residential, as was the Clark property.

“All are in the shoreline, but not in the 100 year floodplain,” he said.

Branch said the current assessed valuation of the three properties being recommended for annexation by city staff was $340,100 and that the parcels in the initial petition had an assessed valuation of $157,000.

The council voted to accept the Letter of Intent to annex and the process will continue at a future council meeting.

Under new business the city is considering placing a moratorium on marijuana dispensaries and grow operations.

“If adopted you have to have a public hearing within 60 days and be accountable,” said Branch. “We did the same thing when we were asked to allow a sexually orientated business and for the sign ordinance.”

Branch told the council a moratorium was probably the safest thing for the city to do while it further studied the issue.

“Several governors have petitioned the federal government to lower it from a Class 1 to a Class 2. An moratorium may be renewed for one or more periods, but a public hearing must be held for each subsequent 6-month renewal,” said Branch.

Police Chief Clay Warnstaff told the council that Washington’s medical marijuana law was at odds with federal law. He added that dispensaries were not even allowed under state law, the governor having vetoed that portion of the legislation that allowed medical marijuana.

“Does this include cardholders growing individual plants,” asked Councilman Ed Naillon.

“It doesn’t look like it,” said Branch.

“It is kind of a shell game as the law is written,” added Chief Warnstaff. “What we are looking at here is a movement to put a stop on collective gardens or dispensaries until further study of the ramifications of the law. As far as collective gardens go the closest city I’ve found that has them is Ellensburg.

Councilman Naillon said there were a lot of valid factors for not allowing the collective gardens, such the potential for lowering property values, fire hazards and increased crime.

“I see it as a safety issue and a property value issue. If someone has got a card this moratorium would not cut them off,” Naillon said.

Warnstaff also cautioned that if the city was seen to encourage collective grows or dispensaries it might jeopardize it’s relationship with the federal government on grants and other funding opportunities.

Councilman Tony Koepke made the motion to approve the moratorium and it was seconded by Councilwoman Neysa Roley and passed unanimously.