Despite being told that the June 12 comprehensive plan steering committee meeting was not to discuss annexation, about 25 residents attended the public meeting and one voiced his opinion about annexation.
Dan Lang of The Lang Gang Inc. began by telling the crowd that the session was not to address annexation but added that visitors were welcome to stay.
The Lang Gang is the consultant hired to develop the city’s new comprehensive plan.
The most recent public input meeting and voting session for the comprehensive plan’s draft goals was held Wednesday, June 6.
A total of 172 people returned surveys. Of those, 142 identified annexation as their principal concern, Lang said.
“Because this a comprehensive plan, it’s comprehensive in scope. Annexation is one part of that, but quite frankly a very small part,” he said.
Parks and recreation, economic development, land use, civic improvement, transportation and other infrastructure focus topics are all components of the comprehensive plan.
Just before the transition into a discussion about the city’s street plan, Charlie Schroepfer, who has been vocal about annexation, addressed the committee.
Schroepfer suggested that a “no annexation” goal be added to the list of comprehensive plan goals.
“A lot of people showed up at those meetings who didn’t want annexation in Washington. I think no annexing in this comprehensive plan is important to the people of this area, not only out of town, but in town,” he said.
He noted there is a lot of industrial land that is vacant as well as retail and residential land.
“If we annex, what are we going to do to the people who own these properties? Are we going to put them out of business? We’re going to affect them in a big way,” he said.
Schroepfer also brought up one specific goal from the comprehensive plan, calling it a “super major issue” for himself and a large group of people in Washington. The goal was listed in the parks/recreation/open space group and is “to preserve and protect special open spaces resources such as floodplains, wetlands and stream corridors.”
“When you put open space on private property you kill the value of that property,” he said.
Lang explained that “open space” refers to special open space resources.
“We’re talking about wetlands, floodplains — we’re not really talking about pedestrian networking. We’re talking about stream resources and things typically communities are looking to protect,” Lang said.
Lang also again explained the purpose of a comprehensive plan.
A series of objectives will be formed to meet each goal.
A total of 42 draft goals across six different topics were identified.
Schroepfer said there was “confusion” through the whole process.
Darren Lamb, community and economic development director, said people were confused because they were told the steering committee meeting was an annexation meeting.
Steering committee members agreed that people thought the meetings were about annexation.
“If the people’s voice don’t count, then why were we invited?” Schroepfer asked.
Lang said he values the public input and that their voices were heard.
“Whether or not that voice becomes a part of the comprehensive plan becomes the decision of the steering committee,” he said.
Lang noted that there will be additional opportunities for public input through the process through two additional meetings.