VANCOUVER, Wash. – The long debate between Tacoma and Spokane over which is Washington’s second-largest city could soon be resolved by Vancouver, which is considering annexing property that would bring 65,000 people into the southwest Washington city.
The Clark County Boundary Review Board will soon hear a city proposal to annex several areas into Vancouver, which would increase the city’s land area by 57 percent by taking in about 26 square miles and increase its population by 42 percent.
Vancouver City Manager Pat McDonnell said the city would like to see discussions, both with residents and government officials, on whether pending annexations should be enlarged even further.
Officials tentatively have scheduled five information meetings in January to discuss the proposal.
“We want to see if this is an opportunity to expand the current footprint,” McDonnell said.
Vancouver already provides some services to the area being discussed for annexation, including fire, sewer and water in some places. The city addition would include residential areas north of the pending Burnt Bridge Creek annexation.
Vancouver is currently the state’s fourth-largest city, with an estimated 2005 population of 154,800, according to the state Office of Financial Management. Spokane and Tacoma are neck and neck for the second-largest designation, with populations of 198,700 and 198,100 respectively. Seattle is the largest at 573,000.
“The proposed annexation expansion would give residents of the area a voice in how those services are provided and at what cost, a voice they currently have only in the case of fire services,” McDonnell wrote in a Nov. 23 memo to the City Council. “In fact, given that these residents are already receiving and paying for city services, I believe they deserve all the benefits of city citizenship, to have a say in how we grow and develop and how we balance needs and resources.”
McDonnell told the Columbian newspaper the city will need to do an analysis of the costs and revenues involved in bringing such a large area into the city. He said it takes time to improve services and develop amenities in newly annexed areas.
Vancouver annexed Cascade Park, an area of 17.6 square miles with 58,000 people, almost nine years ago, but the city just now is building an east precinct for police and the Firstenburg Community Center for residents.
“The one thing we have learned is you can’t overpromise,” McDonnell said.
The Cascade Park annexation was the biggest in state history and McDonnell said the addition to the Burnt Bridge Creek annexation would be even bigger.
Bill Barron, county administrator, said commissioners would oppose enlarging the Burnt Bridge Creek annexation beyond what’s necessary to balance the largely vacant commercial and industrial property with existing residential areas north of Fourth Plain Road.
“Certainly to do this much this fast is of significant concern to the county,” he said.
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