To grow or not to grow

Mabton officials revisiting town’s urban growth area

MABTON – Asked a few years ago by Yakima County to reduce its urban growth area (UGA), the city of Mabton complied by removing areas northwest and southeast of town.

“We didn’t have a crystal ball,” Mayor Mario Martinez said of discerning which areas may or may not be primed for development.

A crystal ball would have been handy.

As it turns out, Mabton needs to get those properties back in its UGA.

Urban growth areas allow cities to plan for development and extend utilities to properties outside city limits with an eye towards eventually annexing them.

This past Tuesday night the Mabton City Council was asked by J.T. Reynolds of Wheeler’s Smoke-N-Gas, just northwest of town, when the city might be able to bring its property back into the UGA.

Wheeler’s opened its gas station/convenience store along the Mabton-Sunnyside Highway and wants to be included in the urban growth area so it can tap into Mabton’s water and sewer system.

Martinez noted later that the company will pay for water and sewer lines to run out to the business site.

That not only helps Wheeler’s operations expand – currently its relying on a well and septic tank - but also opens the door for Mabton to grow.

New residences and businesses could be built and access water/sewer along the 1,000 feet or so between Mabton’s current city limits and the Wheeler property.

Before Mabton pursues that change to its UGA, the city wants to at the same time add a property just southeast of town that used to be in the UGA.

That land is owned by John and Sandy Birdlebough. They propose selling 10 acres and a pit to Mabton to address the city’s long-term water storage needs.

In answer to Reynolds’ question, Mabton attorney Jamie Carmody said when the city formally petitions Yakima County for the UGA changes it will do so on an “emergency” basis.

“We’ll try to speed it up,” said Carmody, who noted otherwise it might not be until December before the county takes action on the UGA request.

In related news Tuesday night, council tabled action on a contract with the Birdleboughs to buy their property. Council will likely take it up at the next meeting on Tuesday, April 14.


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