Debate over annexation

Zach Wilkinson/Daily NewsAbout 48 acres east of the intersection of Southeast Johnson Road and Bishop Boulevard is being considered for annexation by the city of Pullman. A portion of the land is seen here Friday afternoon to the southeast of Wilru Apartments.

The Pullman City Council will have a public hearing Tuesday regarding the annexation of 48 acres east of Southeast Johnson Road that would pave the way for more apartments and, some residents fear, more traffic on Bishop Boulevard and the surrounding roads.

Bob Perdue, of Nelson Partners, and Frank Motley, of Two-GM, have petitioned to annex the 48 acres that would be zoned as R3 medium density multi-family residential. The property currently is agricultural land.

“The current R3 prezoning would allow for up to 29 dwelling units per acre,” Pullman Planning Director RJ Lott stated in an email to the Daily News. “Apartments would be an allowed use.”

Tuesday’s meeting packet includes an email written to Lott by Pullman resident Nancy Mack that states the annexation will “adversely affect hundreds of lives.”

Mack is concerned more residences will lead to traffic congestion, the need for additional traffic lights and cause delays for those who drive on that side of the city each day.

The email states “it is clear that Bishop Boulevard and Johnson Road were not designed for heavy loads of traffic that could result from developments on this potentially annexed property.”

Mack also stated the added traffic will make it difficult for anyone on Johnson Road, the Old Moscow Road and Sand Road to access the city.

Lott wrote that a traffic analysis would be completed after the city receives a site-specific development application.

“At this time, there has not been one received at City Hall,” he stated.

Mack’s email states this traffic problem would be exacerbated by the possibility of a proposed 13-story apartment building called Elevate Student Housing that would be located near the intersection of Bishop Boulevard and Johnson Road. Mack wrote that hundreds of cars would fill the road immediately south of that intersection, which is the only entrance and egress from the annexed property.

Nelson Partners approached Pullman city officials about constructing Elevate Student Housing in 2019, but there has not been much progress made since then. Lott informed the Daily News this week the city has not “heard or received any additional information on site-specific development for this location.”

The Pullman Planning Department staff determined the annexed land would fit within Pullman’s urban growth area, which was established to allow for controlled growth. The Planning Commission voted in December to recommend approval of the annexation request.

Pullman resident Scott Cornelius brought up similar concerns about traffic congestion and potential negative effects this could have on the residents on Johnson and Sand roads in a letter to the editor published Friday in the Daily News.

He told the Daily News by phone Friday that many people will be affected by this annexation if it is approved, and he plans on asking the City Council on Tuesday to send the issue back to the Planning Commission.

Cornelius is concerned the city is ready to annex the land without planning for potential consequences.

“They don’t give any consideration to access and they don’t give any consideration to the surrounding area,” he said.

After Tuesday’s public hearing, the council will vote on whether to adopt the ordinance annexing the land.

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.

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