The Puyallup City Council may soon change a city rule that makes consenting to annexation a condition of receiving city water and sewer service outside city limits.
The council spent part of a two-hour study session tonight talking about that portion of city code. Although no action was taken, members seemed to agree that the annexation requirement should be removed.
“My position is that we should not have an annexation requirement,” said Councilman Don Malloy. “I believe when we annex property into the city, we should be annexing people that want to come, not that are obligated to come because of other services we have provided.”
The discussion came about a month after the council approved a $270,000 settlement agreement stemming from a lawsuit centered on exactly that issue.
Mike Stanzel, who owns a family recreation business in unincorporated north Puyallup, took the city to court after he was told he had to consent to annexation in order to get the water availability letter he needed to expand.
He won favorable rulings from a Pierce County Superior Court judge and the state Court of Appeals; last month the council approved the settlement.
The annexation requirement has been on the books since at least 2004, said Kevin Yamamoto, senior assistant city attorney. It’s permissible under state law, although the city doesn’t have to impose it, he said.
“It’s a discretionary decision of the council,” he said during the study session.
The proposed change will come back to the council at a future meeting for a decision.
The council also will look at some other possible changes to that part of code, including adding incentives – in the form of lower usage rates – for outside residents seeking water and sewer service who consent to annexation.
Right now, outside residents pay 1 ½ times as much for city water and sewer service as people living inside city limits.